Tell Kasich To Veto Abortion Restrictions In The Budget

Yesterday, we joined nearly 100 pro-choice activists at the Ohio Statehouse to demand that our lawmakers remove two anti-abortion restrictions from the state’s proposed budget.

Women from every corner of the state traveled to Columbus to raise the alarm after Ohio House and Senate leaders quietly re-inserted the “30-mile” transfer agreement provision into the budget in an 11th hour attempt to close Toledo’s last abortion clinic.

While it was inspiring to be in the presence of so many progressive women, it was heartbreaking to witness our protests being ignored by the Republican majority in the House and Senate.

As explained in an editorial by the The Cleveland Plain Dealer, lawmakers officially passed the state budget with the following anti-abortion provisions still in-tact:

The anti-Toledo rule mandates that abortion clinics conclude a state-mandated emergency patient transfer agreement with a hospital that is no more than 30 miles away. The Toledo clinic had solved the conundrum of not being able to find a willing Ohio hospital by concluding a transfer deal with a Michigan hospital 50 miles away.

The other rule — one that likely will close a Dayton clinic that’s been waiting two years for a state variance allowing it to operate without a transfer agreement — requires a clinic to get such a variance within two months. Such a deadline would let squeamish state bureaucrats simply sit on their hands and let the clock run out.

These draconian rules aimed at closing Ohio’s abortion clinics appear to be a thinly veiled effort to get before the U.S. Supreme Court a challenge to Roe v. Wade, the case that legalized abortion.
— The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Editorial Board, 6/26/15, "Ohio budget bill is no place for abortion restrictions: editorial"

By allowing these anti-abortion restrictions to remain in the budget, Ohio’s lawmakers are blatantly disregarding the ruling of Lucas County Judge Myron Duhart, which stated that adding abortion licensing provisions to a state budget bill violates the Ohio Constitution’s "single subject" rule.

Referring to previous anti-abortion provisions that were added in a similar manner to the state’s budget bill in 2013, Judge Duhart’s ruling states:

Capital Care argues… the current licensing scheme is unconstitutional because it was improperly enacted as part of a huge appropriations bill, ‘HB 59’ and, thus, the ASF licensing scheme contained in HB 59 runs afoul of the so-called ‘single-subject’ rule embodied in the Ohio Constitution.

...The court concludes that the Current Scheme for licensing abortion-center ASFs, at issue here, violates the single-subject rule.
— Hon. Myron Duhart, Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, Capital Care Network v. Ohio Department of Health, Opinion & Judgement 6/19/15

By adding these anti-abortion restrictions to the state’s new budget, Ohio’s legislators are purposefully ignoring the court’s opinion and the Constitution’s single-subject rule.

We join our friends at NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio in urging all Ohioans to contact Governor Kasich and make it clear to him that these unconstitutional legislative tactics are outrageous and will not be tolerated by his constituents. 

Ohio women will not stand for 11th hour, backdoor maneuvers that end access to abortion. We demand that Gov. Kasich veto these measures.

A compassionate leader does not sign away women’s rights before jetting off to campaign stops in Iowa or New Hampshire. John Kasich cannot simply excuse his own actions by saying ‘I’m just signing what they gave me.’ He will be responsible when women die through unsafe, illegal abortions.
— Kellie Copeland, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, 6/25/15

At this point, the only way to remove the two anti-abortion restrictions from the budget is if John Kasich line item vetoes them.

Please call Governor Kasich's office at (614) 466-3555 and urge him to line item veto the abortion restrictions.

Editor's Note: One of our readers asked what she should say when she calls Kasich. Here's what I suggest:

"The provisions regarding transfer agreements and variances for abortion clinics have no place in the state's fiscal budget bill. Not only will these abortion restrictions hurt Ohio's women, their presence within the budget violates the Ohio Constitution's single subject rule. I respectfully ask that you please line item veto these provisions from the budget."

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This Clinic Stays Open… But For How Long?

We’ve got some good news and some bad news.

THE GOOD NEWS: On Friday, Lucas County Judge Myron Duhart ruled in favor of our sister clinic, Capital Care Network (CCN). After a year-long court battle with the state regarding the legality of CCN’s transfer agreement with University of Michigan Hospital, Judge Duhart ordered Friday that Toledo’s last abortion clinic remain open.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the case, the Kasich administration has been trying to shut down the clinic for a while, claiming the University of Michigan hospital is not close enough. The Columbus Dispatch explains the case’s background pretty well:

Nearly a year ago, the Ohio Department of Health ordered the clinic to close. Ohio law mandates that abortion clinics operate under a transfer agreement with a local, private hospital, or risk their license. Previously, the clinic had an agreement with the public University of Toledo Medical Center until it was barred from doing so in 2013 because of a provision put in the state budget that year.”

”In January 2014, Capital Care Network was able to get a transfer agreement with University of Michigan’s hospital, which is 50 miles away. Since then, anti-abortion activists claim it’s operated outside of the state’s law because the hospital wasn’t Ohio-based.”

”Since 2013, five abortion clinics have closed in the state. Eight — including the Capital Care Network — remain.”
— Columbus Dispatch, 6/19/15

In his ruling, Judge Duhart begins by noting, “It is now well-established in this country that ‘it is a constitutional liberty of the woman to have some freedom to terminate her pregnancy."

Later in the ruling, he states, “In this case, the Court finds that the state has exceeded its constitutional authority in applying to Capital Care the current statutory scheme for licensing abortion centers… Unnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion impose an undue burden on the right."

Regarding transfer agreements: "The power to prohibit licensure may not constitutionally be placed in the hands of hospitals."

After the Judge Duhart's ruling was announced, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio released the following statement:

Despite all the back-door deals, and shady maneuvering, [Governor] John Kasich and [Attorney General] Mike DeWine have failed in their crusade to effectively outlaw abortion in Toledo. This is great news for Toledo’s women and we congratulate Attorney Jennifer Branch, and the staff at Capital Care Network on their court victory today.”

“The Ohio legislature and John Kasich ought to read Judge Duhart’s ruling carefully. They should remove the provisions that they added at the 11th hour that target abortion clinics in the currently proposed budget. These measures are also likely to be found to violate the due process rights of abortion providers and be found unconstitutional. It’s time for Kasich and DeWine to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on their personal quest to outlaw abortion.”
— Kellie Copeland, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, 6/19/15

The reaction from us here at Founder's and CCN has been one of mixed emotions. On one hand, we are grateful to Judge Duhart and everyone who has supported us every step of the way. This was a huge win that we fought incredibly hard for. But the struggle is far from over. 

"I really cannot express how elated I am to say with confidence that northwest Ohio can continue to provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare to women,” said Marlena Ainslie, spokesperson for Capital Care Network of Toledo. "This is far from the first and will certainly not be the last battle for the clinic, but [this ruling] says that Toledo has brave citizens, attorneys, activists, and at least one brave judge who believe in choice and rights for women."

This is where THE BAD NEWS comes in. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office told The Columbus Dispatch that the state plans to appeal the Lucas County court’s ruling. That means the legal battle will continue, which in turn means that more taxpayer funds will be spent by the state to defend unconstitutional abortion restrictions that would ultimately shut down CCN and other abortion clinics across Ohio.

On top of that, Ohio Right to Life has stated they will “fight like hell” to add and keep anti-abortion provisions in the state’s budget bill that would close CCN, as well as abortion clinics in Dayton and Cincinnati.

So the battle to keep abortion safe and legal in Ohio continues and we can’t fight it alone. We need pro-choice members of the community like you to help out in the following ways:

1. Contact ProMedica’s Toledo Hospital and urge them to sign a transfer agreement with Capital Care Network.

While Judge Duhart upheld CCN’s current transfer agreement with University of Michigan, there’s a chance that Ohio’s legislature could pass additional legislation that would limit transfer agreements to hospitals within 30 miles of the clinic. At this point, a transfer agreement with ProMedica would ensure that CCN is safe no matter what the legislature does (with regard to ASF transfer agreement laws).

2. Contact Attorney General Mike DeWine & Governor John Kasich.

Send a tweet, post on Facebook, send an email, make a phone call... whatever method you choose, make sure to tell Kasich and DeWine that you DO NOT approve of them wasting tax payer dollars to defend anti-abortion laws that have already been ruled unconstitutional by Lucas County Judge Duhart.

3. Join us aT comfest in columbus and get a #leavemypussyalone sticker.

We'll be passing out these pro-choice cat-lady stickers at the Freedom of Choice Ohio (FOCO) booth on Saturday (6/27) from 5-8 PM in Goodale Park in Columbus, Ohio.

Spread the word about women's reproductive choice while driving around the community. Bonus points if you drive past the Statehouse!

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Tell Ohio Legislators To #LeaveMyPussyAlone

ORIGINAL POST (4:00 PM): Another day, another proposed abortion restriction. Yesterday, anti-choice legislators introduced an amendment to Ohio’s state budget that would close our sister clinic, Capital Care Network of Toledo.

Currently, the state requires that abortion clinics have an ambulatory transfer agreement with a “local” hospital (despite the fact that transfer agreements are pointless, since no hospital can turn away a patient who comes to the ER).

According to the Columbus Dispatch, under a provision added Wednesday to the budget, the hospital would have to be within 30 miles of the clinic. This new provision would render Capital Care Network’s transfer agreement with The University of Michigan invalid, because Ann Arbor is more than 30 miles away.

This last-minute, sneaky tactic by anti-choice Republican senators has Ohio’s pro-choice community madder than hell and we aren’t going to give up without a fight.

We’re encouraging everyone to send emails to their state senators urging them to remove this abortion-related amendment from the budget.

That’s where the stickers come in. We’ve teamed up with our favorite pro-choice cat, Classy Cat In Columbus, to create some awesome pro-choice stickers, which we’ll be handing out on Saturday at the Columbus Gay Pride Festival.

Every person who emails their legislator and sends us a screenshot will get a free #LeaveMyPussyAlone sticker! You can post the screenshot in a comment on our Facebook page and we’ll reserve your sticker. Come to the Planned Parenthood* booth between 2 PM - 5 PM on Saturday (6/20) to claim your pro-choice sticker!

*Founder's Women's Health Center is not affiliated with Planned Parenthood in any way. They were simply nice enough to allow us to peddle our stickers at their Gay Pride booth.

If you can't make it to Pride this weekend, we will also be at ComFest next Saturday (6/27). We'll be volunteering at the Freedom Of Choice Ohio (FOCO) booth from 5 PM - 8 PM.

For those of you who want to make a pro-choice fashion statement, stay tuned! We’re in the process of making #LeaveMyPussyAlone tote bags and t-shirts. 100% of the net profits from this project will be donated to an Ohio-based 501(c)(3) abortion fund.

UPDATE (6/18/15, 6:15 PM): According to Jaime Miracle, Policy Director for NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, "Senator Sandra Williams made a deal and the amendment requiring the transfer agreement hospital to be within 30 miles of the clinic has been REMOVED from the budget. There is still a section that essentially allows ODH to pocket veto abortion clinic variance applications and could close clinics in Dayton and Cinci, but the Toledo situation isn't quite as dire for now."

We still need to continue the fight... Please keep reaching out to your legislators and Governor john kasich. tell them to stop passing TRAP laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) that are designed to shutter abortion clinics in Ohio.

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To The Dude Who Washed Away Our Sidewalk Chalk

Imagine for a moment that you are a pregnant woman. You’ve been through some tough life circumstances and financial hardship that have led you to choose abortion. It was a really difficult decision to make and you’re sad that it has come to this, but you know you’re not ready to have another child and this is the best choice for you and your family. 

Now imagine it’s the day of your abortion procedure. As you're walking up to the clinic for your appointment, you pass by a group of strangers holding scary signs, yelling things like “It’s not safe here! You don’t have to do this. I’ll adopt your baby!” These people don’t know your life or your situation and you have no interest in talking to them, so you look down to avoid eye contact. When you look at the sidewalk, you see that there are messages written in chalk:

  • “Mommy, don’t murder me"
  • “Mommy, have mercy on me."
  • “Your baby’s heart is beating."

You know that nothing in the world is going to change your mind about this abortion, but somehow the words on the sidewalk still hit you like a punch in the gut.

Yes, the protesters outside of our clinic really did write this on the sidewalk. I wish I were kidding.

Yes, the protesters outside of our clinic really did write this on the sidewalk. I wish I were kidding.

You were already feeling really sad and nervous about your procedure before you even got out of the car… Having to fend off hostile, hurtful words from strangers as you walk into the clinic just adds to your anxiety, guilt, and anger. 

It may sound like something you would only see in a movie, but sadly, this kind of thing happens in real life at Founder’s Women’s Health Center. Every Saturday, dozens of anti-choice protesters gather in front of the clinic and cover the sidewalk with inflammatory messages to antagonize patients who refuse to speak with them as they are followed by protesters from their cars to the clinic’s front door. 

As a patient advocate who is dedicated to helping women access safe and legal abortions, I cannot stand to see my patients endure this kind of emotional abuse. Choosing abortion is a difficult, gut-wrenching decision, so oftentimes, patients are already dealing with a lot of sadness and grief.

99 percent of the time, standing outside of a clinic calling these women “murderers” won’t change their minds. I know this because patients often say to me: “What’s up with those people outside? They don’t know my situation or my family. I’ve already made up my mind and I don’t want to talk to them. Don’t they understand that this is hard enough?"

After seven months of watching these protesters closely, my hypothesis is that they secretly enjoy making these women feel horrible. They know how to emotionally manipulate vulnerable women and they’re really good at it.  I care about my patients too much to just sit back and let these anti-choice extremists control the environment outside of our clinic.

So in an effort to create a more welcoming atmosphere for patients and to pre-empt this negative behavior by the protesters, I invited feminists from the Columbus community to decorate the clinic's sidewalks with positive, uplifting images.

Pro-choice feminists chalked the sidewalks of Broad Street and Sherman Avenue with beautiful artwork on May 22, 2015.

Pro-choice feminists chalked the sidewalks of Broad Street and Sherman Avenue with beautiful artwork on May 22, 2015.

Fifteen women came out to decorate the sidewalk on a Friday night so that Saturday’s patients would be greeted with space owls, flowers, cats and rainbows, instead of hateful, intimidating messages. 

We chalked the entire block for nearly three hours, starting at 6:00 PM. During that time, many neighbors and pedestrians stopped to investigate what was going on and to take photos of the beautiful artwork.

Every single passerby provided words of support and several neighbors asked if they could help us next time because they also find the protesters’ presence on the block to be annoying and disruptive. It felt amazing to experience that kind of the support from the community.

Space owls, bunnies, and veggie bacon!

Space owls, bunnies, and veggie bacon!

I was the last person to leave at 8:45 PM. And according to the clinic’s surveillance footage, it was less than an hour later when a 30-something white male appeared with water and a broom, and washed away all of the artwork in front of the clinic.

I know this person was affiliated with the anti-choice protesters that plague the clinic, because this man only washed off the sidewalk in front of the clinic. The sidewalk art in front of the neighbors’ properties on Broad and Sherman were left completely untouched.

The chalk on Sherman Avenue went untouched, while the chalk in front of the clinic on Broad Street was strategically washed off by some BIG BRAVE MAN after we left.

The chalk on Sherman Avenue went untouched, while the chalk in front of the clinic on Broad Street was strategically washed off by some BIG BRAVE MAN after we left.

This was not an angry neighbor. This was a cowardly male protester who purposefully waited until we had left and he didn’t even have the courage to do the deed in broad daylight. Instead, he waited until he was protected by the cover of darkness to erase the love and happiness from the sidewalk.

To my patients: Excuse my language, but this man does NOT give a crap about you. He doesn’t care if you already have three children and can barely afford to put food on the table. He doesn’t care that you have a medical condition, so your pregnancy is high risk and the hospital bills are stacking up. 

Screenshot from security footage of anti-choice protester splashing water all over the clinic's chalk artwork.

Screenshot from security footage of anti-choice protester splashing water all over the clinic's chalk artwork.

He certainly won’t be there to provide childcare, financial assistance, or food for your family for the next 18 years. All he cares about is controlling your body and your life. 

To the man who did this: Make sure to smile for the camera next time. We have you on video trespassing on our property (about 1:50 into the video) and we have given the footage to the police. Once they are able to identify you, we will be pressing charges.

I want you to know that this is not the end. I may not be able to prevent your group from bothering my patients outside of the clinic, but I will continue to rally the pro-choice community around us by chalking the sidewalk throughout the summer months. And the more you try to control and erase our positive messages and images, the more the community will begin to see you for what you really are: a creepy, pathetic misogynist who is filled with malice, hate and anger.

See you on the sidewalk, bro. Bring lots of water. You’re gonna need it. ;-)
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We’re Bowling For Abortion And We Need Your Help!

It’s finally spring and that means it’s Bowl-A-Thon season! The National Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon is an annual nationwide series of local events that allow community members to captain their own bowling teams, participate in a kickass national event, and raise money to help women and girls pay for abortions they couldn’t otherwise afford.

Every year, a few of Founder’s staff members join other pro-choice activists from Women Have Options (WHO/O), Ohio’s statewide abortion fund, to help make this local event a success. Established in 1992, WHO/O is an all-volunteer organization that helps low-income patients afford their reproductive choices. They are a founding member of the National Network of Abortion Funds, which includes more than 100 abortion funds around the United States and overseas. WHO/O distributes funds to clinics throughout Ohio. These clinics, in turn, use the funds to provide financial assistance to patients in need.

WHO/O frequently contributes funds to some of FWHC’s most vulnerable patients. Some of the patients we serve are single parents struggling to support their children, many are students determined to complete their education, while others are facing debilitating conditions such as domestic violence, illness, substance abuse, rape, or incest. All deserve to make their own reproductive choices, without jeopardizing their health or future.

The cost of a first trimester abortion can be more than a low-income family lives on in a month. Patients forgo food, risk eviction, and pawn their possessions as they attempt to raise money for an abortion. On average, an individual receives about $100 from WHO/O grants. Every donation to WHO/O, no matter how small, has a tremendous impact.

You can donate to Bowl-A-Thon through April 25!

We are bowling because we believe that everyone should have access to the abortions they need, regardless of how much money they have.

Because of unfair and unnecessary laws, safe and legal abortions can be out of reach of those who don’t have the money to pay for them. We don’t think that’s right, so we’re doing something about it.

You can help us reach our goal, and together, we can make an immediate difference with real impact. Join us!

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Pledge-A-Protester: Can't Shut Us Down!

Since June of 2014, many people have donated funds to our Pledge-A-Protester campaign via the donation site YouCaring.com. Almost 9 months later, the P-A-P campaign's coordinator received an email saying that YouCaring shut down our donation site. Their reasoning was the following:

"...we reserve the right to remove any campaigns that we feel are divisive or controversial to our community. As such, we have removed your fundraiser."

Well alrighty then.

Not being ones to back down when faced with adversity, we tried and tried to find a way to change the page so it would be acceptable to YouCaring's standards. In the end we couldn't keep the web address that was already published on all of the Pledge-A-Protester print materials. Since their community found our cause to be "divisive," we went in a better direction for donations: Paypal!

Patients, friends, family, and pro-choice supporters can once again make donations of any amount to our Pledge-A-Protester fund! Just like before, every cent of every donation is given to women who cannot afford their abortion procedure for any number of reasons. To date, donations from our wonderful supporters have been disbursed to a total of 34 patients.

We are incredibly grateful to our donors and their generous support in this cause. There is such satisfaction in being able to answer the challenge our patients face when seeking care at our office. Instead of feeling shamed and bullied on the walk to the front door, we can provide a sense of empowerment in a time of chaos, and it's all thanks to you!

To make a donation in support of the right to reproductive choice and in defense of our patients, you can visit our Paypal site by clicking the button below or by clicking the button in the sidebar on this blog. Your donations and support make a huge difference! Thank you!

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