Milestone highlights abortion division

R-C Capital bureau Published:

COLUMBUS -- Last week marked the 41st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

And that meant a week of abortion-related announcements around Capital Square, including candidate endorsements from abortion advocates, the announced closing of an abortion clinic and a postcard campaign targeting GOP lawmakers who won't back more rigid abortion restrictions:

nEndorsements: Cuy-ahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald shifted the campaign focus to women's issues, when he selected Dayton Democrat Sharen Neuhardt as his running mate (replacing State Sen. Eric Kearney after continued questions over tax obligations).

Neuhardt is a vocal advocate of women's health who played a prominent role in an October Statehouse rally by opponents of Republican-backed abortion restrictions.

It was not a surprise when Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio on Tuesday announced its endorsement of FitzGerald and Neuhardt, along with the four other already-endorsed Democrats running for statewide office: state Rep. Connie Pillich (treasurer), state Rep. John Carney (auditor), David Pepper (attorney general) and state Sen. Nina Turner (secretary of state).

n Closing?: The Ohio Department of Health has denied a variance needed by a Cincinnati-area clinic to continue to conduct abortions, saying the location did not meet the state's licensing requirements.

The clinic is expected to appeal.

The decision drew cheers from Ohio Right to Life and jeers from abortion advocates.

"We want to thank the health department for enforcing Ohio law and refusing to allow the abortion industry to escape complying with health and safety standards," said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life. "Women's health is priority number one and today's actions by the Kasich administration should serve as a wake-up call that Ohio will no longer turn a blind eye towards unhealthy medical practices."

"Gov. Kasich and his political appointees at the Ohio Department of Health are abusing their regulatory authority by moving to close an abortion clinic without any medical justification," said Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. "We call on Gov. Kasich to stop his regulatory witch hunt and quit interfering in women's medical decisions. Ohio women deserve better."

n Heartbeat Bill: Backers of stalled legislation that would ban abortions within weeks of conception said they would send postcards to voters criticizing "Republicans in Name Only" who aren't backing the law change.

"It's time we do 'whatever it takes' to bring the killing to an end," Janet Porter, president of Faith2Action, the group behind the effort, said in a released statement. "The best way to protest 41 years of abortion on demand is to end it, and that's what we intend to do."

She added, "While these so-called 'pro-life' senators and statereps will likely make pro-life speeches at the marches and rallies for life today, their actions are far from their words. It's time for real pro-life candidates to step up to run for the seats currently held by pro-life imposters."

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

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