Blog Post

This I believe…

This essay was written by NARAL Pro-Choice Intern Cole Wojdacz three years ago when Barack Obama was still president and things were very different than they are now. These words were relevant then, and they are even more relevant in the current political climate. We need to build our community strength, our organizing power, our support systems, our collective voice use these tools to fight back against the realities we are now facing. We have at least four years of a Trump administration, we have two years still left with the Kasich administration, with the very real potential for four more years under a different conservative governor. We need to speak out, we need to show up, we need to donate time and money, and most importantly, we need to speak our truths.

Throughout my life, I have never been drawn to conflict. I will bend over backwards to make a losing situation into a win-win scenario. This has worked well for me; I make friends quickly and I usually feel at ease in many different situations. But in the summer of my 16th year, I learned that sometimes avoiding conflict could come at too high a price.

We were all hanging out in the basement, which was about ten degrees colder than was comfortable and everyone was engaged in the conversation. Draped over the tattered collection of cast-off furniture were five of my best friends; lanky teenage guys who were smart, funny, and always sweetly protective of me. As an only child, being treated as an honorary little sister is one of my all time favorite feelings. Everything was relaxed and normal until one of them knocked his full drink off the table and onto another guy’s backpack. The backpack owner turned to the clumsy one and called him a faggot. When I heard that word it was as if battery acid was being poured into my stomach. The word appalled me. I chose not to speak up for fear of alienating myself from this group of people, and I dwelled on this choice for the rest of the night. The use of that word, my least favorite word in the entire English language, made me lose respect for these guys that I had come to love. And even worse, it made me lose respect for myself because I didn’t voice my discomfort.

The next time it happened a little bit differently. Instead of using the word faggot someone said that something was gay, implying that it was stupid. The use of the word gay in a derogatory fashion, though not as immediately nauseating as the previous incident, brought the night to a halt for me. I remembered how I had felt before when that terrible f-word was used and how much it had cost me in self-respect when I failed to call out my friend. As I thought about that experience I realized something that I hadn’t before. I have to fight for what I believe in. This time, I spoke up. I told them that using that kind of language was homophobic and hateful, even if they didn’t mean it that way, and that it was not okay with me. They were taken aback at first and didn’t really take me seriously, but at that point, the ice was broken. I was now able to confidently raise the issue of offensive language whenever it was necessary. I learned to let people know how much it bothered me, and, in general people really tried to change the way they spoke. This highlighted the fact that many people often just don’t think about what they’re saying. Most people don’t mean to be homophobic; they just don’t know any better and haven’t thought about what these words actually mean. My new, hard won habit of speaking these truths also elicited a change in me. I was no longer afraid of the judgment of others. The pride that I felt in advocating for what I found important allowed me to begin to feel comfortable doing it in all settings — formal or informal, with adults and peers alike. It helped me find the self-confidence that I had lost previously, and become the advocate that I am proud to be today.

This experience opened my eyes to two things I now consider to be fundamental to the way I want to live my life. The first being that I must stand up for the things that I believe in, because I can’t count on anyone else to do it. The second is that, though it might be risky or uncomfortable, you must always, without fail, speak your truth.

This essay was written by NARAL Pro-Choice Intern Cole Wojdacz three years ago when Barack Obama was still president and things were very different than they are now. These words were relevant then, and they are even more relevant in the current political climate. We need to build our community strength, our organizing power, our support systems, our collective voice use these tools to fight back against the realities we are now facing. We have at least four years of a Trump administration, we have two years still left with the Kasich administration, with the very real potential for four more years under a different conservative governor. We need to speak out, we need to show up, we need to donate time and money, and most importantly, we need to speak our truths.

Throughout my life, I have never been drawn to conflict. I will bend over backwards to make a losing situation into a win-win scenario. This has worked well for me; I make friends quickly and I usually feel at ease in many different situations. But in the summer of my 16th year, I learned that sometimes avoiding conflict could come at too high a price.

We were all hanging out in the basement, which was about ten degrees colder than was comfortable, and everyone was engaged in the conversation. Draped over the tattered collection of cast-off furniture were five of my best friends; lanky teenage guys who were smart, funny, and always sweetly protective of me. As an only child, being treated as an honorary little sister is one of my all time favorite feelings. Everything was relaxed and normal until one of them knocked his full drink off the table and onto another guy’s backpack. The backpack owner turned to the clumsy one and called him a faggot. When I heard that word it was as if battery acid was being poured into my stomach. The word appalled me. I chose not to speak up for fear of alienating myself from this group of people, and I dwelled on this choice for the rest of the night. The use of that word, my least favorite word in the entire English language, made me lose respect for these guys that I had come to love. And even worse, it made me lose respect for myself because I didn’t voice my discomfort.

The next time it happened a little bit differently. Instead of using the word faggot someone said that something was gay, implying that it was stupid. The use of the word gay in a derogatory fashion, though not as immediately nauseating as the previous incident, brought the night to a halt for me. I remembered how I had felt before when that terrible f-word was used and how much it had cost me in self-respect when I failed to call out my friend. As I thought about that experience I realized something that I hadn’t before. I have to fight for what I believe in. This time, I spoke up. I told them that using that kind of language was homophobic and hateful, even if they didn’t mean it that way, and that it was not okay with me. They were taken aback at first and didn’t really take me seriously, but at that point, the ice was broken. I was now able to confidently raise the issue of offensive language whenever it was necessary. I learned to let people know how much it bothered me, and, in general people really tried to change the way they spoke. This highlighted the fact that many people often just don’t think about what they’re saying. Most people don’t mean to be homophobic; they just don’t know any better and haven’t thought about what these words actually mean. My new, hard won habit of speaking these truths also elicited a change in me. I was no longer afraid of the judgment of others. The pride that I felt in advocating for what I found important allowed me to begin to feel comfortable doing it in all settings — formal or informal, with adults and peers alike. It helped me find the self-confidence that I had lost previously, and become the advocate that I am proud to be today.

This experience opened my eyes to two things I now consider to be fundamental to the way I want to live my life. The first being that I must stand up for the things that I believe in, because I can’t count on anyone else to do it. The second is that, though it might be risky or uncomfortable, you must always, without fail, speak your truth.


Help build a pro-choice Ohio. Every day, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio fights to protect access to the full range of reproductive health care options—including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and safe & legal abortion care. We educate the public about the real threat to women’s healthcare posed by anti-choice legislation and policies. We mobilize pro-choice Ohioans to take political action to defend reproductive rights. And we are the voice for Ohio’s abortion clinics, helping them navigate the increasingly hostile climate created by extremist groups. But we need your help. As a member organization, we rely on your financial support to fund our important legislative, educational, and grassroots activities.

Contribute to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio

Blog Post

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio budget testimony

Deputy Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Jaime Miracle testified before the House Finance Subcommittee on Health & Human Services on the state budget, House Bill 49 on March 22, 2017. This is a transcript of her remarks:

My name is Jaime Miracle and I am the deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. I am here to testify on behalf of our over 50,000 members and activists on the Medicaid, ODJFS, and other healthcare related portions of H.B. 49.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio applauds the state for continuing its investments in the prevention of infant mortality. We encourage this body to effectively fund evidence-based programs that reduce health disparities and lower our embarrassing infant mortality rate. But, at the same time that the state is investing funding in these programs, it is promoting other policies that undermine the progress that could be made.

Charging premiums for Medicaid recipients between 100% and 138% of the federal poverty line is not a turn in the right direction. Increasing the cost of healthcare through premiums decreases the use of health care services (footnote 1) . For childless adults making between $11,880 and $16,400 a year, an additional cost — even of just $20 a month — can present an insurmountable obstacle for accessing health care, and will disproportionately impact people of color in our state, who already face a myriad of racial disparities in health.

Ohio should be in the business of reducing racial disparities in health, not increasing them.

The Centers for Disease Control has identified six key strategies to reduce infant mortality. Two of these strategies are improving women’s health before pregnancy and investing in prevention and health promotion (2). The state is investing more and more funds in programs to help pregnant women be healthy and to take care of women and newborns following the birth of a child, but this is only a part of what needs to be happening to reduce our infant mortality rate. Making sure childless adult women have access to the preconception care they need, making sure chronic illness is managed properly, and making sure that racial disparities of health are minimized are crucial to making real gains in our infant mortality crisis.

Another strong investment we could make would be to re-instate the family planning optional Medicaid program that was eliminated in the 2015 budget. This program not only improves the health and well-being of citizens of our state, it also makes financial sense. For every dollar invested in family planning services, we save seven dollars in other costs (3). In Ohio in 2010, the federal and state governments spent $824.6 million on unintended pregnancies, of this $218.8 million was paid for by the state (4). But that number could have been much greater. Publicly funded family planning services provided by safety-net health centers in Ohio helped save the federal and state governments $226.9 million in that year alone (5). Recognizing that family planning access is critical to the health and well-being of women and babies, both the National Governor’s Association and the March of Dimes have advocated for expanded Medicaid coverage for contraceptive services (6).

I also urge this panel to eliminate funding for the Parenting and Pregnancy Program in this budget. You may be wondering why I would be advocating for that based on the rest of my testimony so far. This program sounds like a great idea, but as they always say, the devil is in the details. State money should be going to programs that have proven track records for effectiveness. This program is not one of those. The Parenting and Pregnancy Program, funded out of the TANF block grant, gives funding to unproven, misleading, and coercive organizations known as “crisis pregnancy centers” or CPCs. TANF block grant money is one of the few remaining places where low income women and families can turn when they need emergency cash assistance. It can be used in a variety of ways, including helping low income families get out of lead contaminated homes. We need to use this money where it has the most impact, not give it to unproven programs.

In a 2013 study into the practices of these centers (7), our undercover investigators found that these centers routinely gave out medically inaccurate information. Thirty-eight percent of CPCs gave misleading information about complication rates for abortion. Forty-seven percent of CPCs gave false information about the non-existent connection between mental health and addiction issues, and abortion. Less than half of the centers were up front about what they stand for; and although they are getting this funding for providing material assistance to low income women and children, most CPCs provided limited material assistance. More than a third of centers had time consuming eligibility requirements, forcing women to earn “baby bucks” by attending parenting classes, volunteering at the center, or even attending Bible study classes. A low-income woman working three jobs to make ends meet doesn’t need to spend two hours in a parenting class before she can get a pack of diapers.

These are not the types of places that should be funded with our tax money.

Women facing an unintended pregnancy deserve medically accurate information presented in an unbiased and non-coercive manner. The state should not be in the business of sending our limited tax dollars to centers that deceive and lie to the people seeking their help. Finally, I urge this committee and all the members of the legislature to not continue to use the state budget as a weapon to attack access to abortion care in our state. These unconstitutional attacks have already been blocked by two Lucas County courts and two lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of attacks on abortion access contained in the 2013 state budget are headed to the Ohio Supreme Court in the next few months. I encourage this body to stick to the issues that the state budget is supposed to cover, and not continue to misuse state tax dollars passing unconstitutional “Christmas tree” budget bills that violate our state constitution’s single subject clause.

Thank you for your time today.


  1. Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, “Financial Condition and Health Care Burdens of People in Deep Poverty,” United States Department of Health and Human Services, July 16, 2015
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6231a3.htm
  3. http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/family-planning/pdf/OH.pdf
  4. Frost JJ, Frohwirth L and Zolna MR, Contraceptive needs and services, 2014 Update, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2016, https://www.guttmacher.org/report/contraceptive-needs-and-services-2014-update
  5. Frost JJ, Sonfield A, Zolna MR, and Fiener LB, Return on Investment: a fuller assessment of the benefits and cost savings of the US publicly funded family planning program, Millbank QuarterlyI, 2014, 92(4):696-749
  6. Guttmacher Institute, Wise Investment: Reducing the Steep Cost to Medicaid of Unintended Pregnancy in the United States, 2011, https://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/gpr/14/3/gpr140306.html
  7. You can read the full report of this investigation at: http://www.prochoiceohio.org/what-is-choice/cpc/reporttext.shtml

Help build a pro-choice Ohio. Every day, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio fights to protect access to the full range of reproductive health care options—including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and safe & legal abortion care. We educate the public about the real threat to women’s healthcare posed by anti-choice legislation and policies. We mobilize pro-choice Ohioans to take political action to defend reproductive rights. And we are the voice for Ohio’s abortion clinics, helping them navigate the increasingly hostile climate created by extremist groups. But we need your help. As a member organization, we rely on your financial support to fund our important legislative, educational, and grassroots activities.

Contribute to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio

Blog Post

New Analysis Shows Women Would be Hardest Hit Under GOP Healthcare Plan

Women would suffer the most under the GOP’s Obamacare replacement plan, according to a new analysis by the Women’s Public Policy Network (WPPN) of Ohio.

Dr. Anita Somani, an obstetrician-gynecologist and the president of the Columbus Medical Association, agreed with the analysis and said many of the increased health risks would come from the plan’s call to defund Planned Parenthood.

By defunding Planned Parenthood, the proposal would limit care and contraception – especially in underserved areas. This will cause an increase in HIV rates and unintended pregnancies. This already happened in Indiana and Texas.

Indiana’s GOP-led state legislature was among the first to declare war against Planned Parenthood in 2011 when it passed a bill to cut off money to the popular family planning provider because some of its clinics offer abortion services. A federal judge later blocked the law from taking effect but the state’s continued cuts to Planned Parenthood left many rural regions without an HIV testing center, prompting an exploding HIV outbreak. Texas saw a similar public health crisis.

Under the Obamacare replacement, called the American Health Care Act, low-income women, women of color and women living in rural areas would be hardest hit because they tend to rely more heavily on Planned Parenthood for their reproductive care, according to WPPN.

Other anti-woman provisions cited by the WPPN analysis:

  • Deep, permanent cuts to Medicaid and the elimination of Medicaid expansion would threaten coverage for the millions of low-income women and families, pregnant women, women with disabilities, and elderly women that depend on the program for coverage. These cuts would shift costs to the states, likely leading to more limited eligibility for enrollment and cuts to coverage benefits. Women of color would be disproportionately impacted by these cuts as black women and Latina women are more likely than white women to be insured through Medicaid.
  • The House GOP bill would jeopardize the Essential Health Benefits (EHB) standard provided under the ACA, which has made groundbreaking advancements for women in healthcare such as guaranteed maternity coverage. The EHB would “sunset” by 2020, meaning that it would be left up to states to decide whether or not insurers are required to cover these services.  Without the EHB standards, women would be forced to pay out-of-pocket for maternity care, potentially costing them thousands of dollars to deliver a child.
  • Women may be forced to pay out-of-pocket for mental health treatment or substance abuse services. As the new proposal would phase out both Medicaid and eliminate the guaranteed Essential Health Benefits (EHB) standard which includes mental health services and substance abuse treatment, many women would no longer be covered for everything from opioid addiction to depression.  These individuals would now be forced to pay out-of-pocket to treat any mental health or substance abuse issues.
  • Expanded restrictions on abortion coverage for both public and private insurance plans could potentially dismantle insurance coverage for abortion. Insurance coverage for abortion already faces dangerous restrictions, but the House GOP bill would create further barriers to accessing.. abortion coverage.  Women would no longer be able to use tax credits to purchase insurance plans that cover abortion, with exceptions for rape, incest, or life of the pregnant person.  The loss of tax credits to afford policies covering abortion would make them too expensive for many individuals and businesses.  This cost-prohibitive provision would then drastically shrink access women have to abortion coverage, or possibly even lead to insurance providers completely dropping abortion coverage from their plans.  It would cause women to have to either buy an unsubsidized, far more expensive plan or purchase a separate “rider” on their healthcare plan for abortion coverage.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland noted:

As anti-choice members of Congress and the Trump administration are stepping up their assault on abortion rights, they are simultaneously crafting policies to block access to family planning services. Local health departments and federally qualified health centers have said they are not equipped to provide care to the people who will lose their insurance coverage if the ACA is repealed and the contraceptive mandate is reversed. Women of color, young women, and low-income people will be most seriously harmed by this dangerous political agenda.

Experts also insisted that the proposed changes would undercut Ohio efforts to lower the state’s shamefully high infant mortality rate.

State Sen. Charleta Tavares, helped win passage of Senate Bill 332 – last year’s landmark infant mortality reduction law:

The passage of S. B. 332 provided important education on safe-spacing and long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) to ensure women are safely getting pregnant when they and their bodies are ready. The changes proposed in the AHCA would drastically undercut our efforts to reduce infant deaths and post-partum depression.

Although some causes of infant death are unknown, access to prenatal care and proper spacing between pregnancies are proven ways to improve maternal health and lower infant mortality. While calling for defunding Planned Parenthood and proposing drastic cuts to Medicaid, which would force the state to make benefit cuts or reductions in eligibility, Trumpcare would reduce access to the very programs that are essential to combat infant mortality.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, 7.2 of every 1,000 babies born died before their first birthdays. The numbers are even more chilling for black infants, who died at a rate of 15.1 per thousand live births — nearly three times the rate of white babies.

A copy of the full report can be found online, at womenspublicpolicynetwork.org.

The Ohio Women’s Public Policy Network (WPPN) is a coalition un-like any other group in the state.  Formed in 2015 and convened by Innovation Ohio Education Fund, the WPPN pulls together 25 key advocacy organizations focused on promoting policies that create economic security for women and strengthen Ohio families.


Help build a pro-choice Ohio. Every day, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio fights to protect access to the full range of reproductive health care options—including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and safe & legal abortion care. We educate the public about the real threat to women’s healthcare posed by anti-choice legislation and policies. We mobilize pro-choice Ohioans to take political action to defend reproductive rights. And we are the voice for Ohio’s abortion clinics, helping them navigate the increasingly hostile climate created by extremist groups. But we need your help. As a member organization, we rely on your financial support to fund our important legislative, educational, and grassroots activities.

Contribute to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio

Blog Post

So how come you guys always ask for money?

So how come you guys always ask for money?

I often hear from people that want to know why we send letters and emails asking you to contribute to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. Sometimes they’re curious about where our funding comes from. Sometimes they’re confused, because they say they’ve just given. Sometimes they’re mad because they say we waste money on postage by mailing request letters every month or so. So let’s get to the bottom of this, shall we?

The first thing to understand about us is that we’re actually organized as three distinct entities: NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Foundation, and NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio PAC.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio is the heart of the organization: gifts to it allow us to lobby on behalf of pro-choice bills and pro-choice candidates—think of it as our core Statehouse team. Donations there are the critical fuel for what we do, but because of the political nature of the work, you can’t deduct those donations on your taxes.

Same with our PAC: that’s where we make contributions directly to the candidates for public office that are 100% committed to preserving abortion access and expanding reproductive rights. We screen and endorse candidates through NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, but we give them the money they need to get elected through our PAC. With the 2018 elections coming up, gifts to the PAC are more important than ever!

Finally, the Foundation supports our research and educational programming. If you itemize your tax-deductible donations, gifts to the Foundation will count.

As for those other questions? We get some of our money from grants to the Foundation to fund special projects. Those dollars are restricted, which means they can’t be spent on our political work. That’s also true for the individual donations we receive from people’s workplace giving campaigns through Community Shares of Mid-Ohio and Greater Cleveland Community Shares: those go to the Foundation to support our educational outreach programs. That means that most of our crucial work at the Statehouse is funded by our individual members–people sending in checks or donating online.

We don’t get money from NARAL Pro-Choice America, and that’s I think where a lot of confusion arises. While we are proud to be the state affiliate of NPCA, we’re a completely separate organization, so your membership gift to them isn’t the same as your membership gift to us.

When you contribute to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, you’re making sure that the hard work of fighting for abortion rights in Ohio happens. Same with Planned Parenthood: Because no one should have to fight this fight alone, and NARAL fights day in and day out to protect Planned Parenthood, as well as the wonderful independent abortion and family planning providers in Ohio, so they can continue to provide quality reproductive health care in our communities.

Please keep our work strong and powerful. Give generously. We mail requests four times a year, and email a few times in between. Whether you give once, twice, or monthly (that’s what I do), we want you to know how much we appreciate it. We are a membership organization. You are our members. Together, we’ll fight to preserve the rights we’ve worked so hard to secure. Thanks for all you do!

For choice,
McKeePam_Smiling2_20150122
Pam McKee
Development Director
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio


Contribute to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio

Blog Post

The Pastor Protection Act — Who really needs protecting?

Who really needs protecting?

Since the legislative session started, the House Committee on Community and Family Advancement has been clear in its solitary mission: to pass the redundant and insulting bill known as the Pastor Protection Act (House Bill 36).

I’m a pretty informed person, I watch the news, read the newspaper, and generally pay attention to what is going on in the world. Correct me if I am wrong, but I’m not exactly sure why we need to be “protecting” pastors with H.B. 36. Maybe I have missed the stories of record high numbers of pastors getting murdered in the streets across the US? Oh wait no, it is transgender women who are being murdered in record numbers, with seven murdered in just the first two months of 2017, and 26 murdered in 2016, an all-time high.

How about suicide rates? We must need to protect pastors from an awful level of discrimination that is causing them to attempt suicide at rates well above the national average, right? Nope, wrong again… According to the Trevor Project, the rate of suicide attempts is four times greater for teens who identify as Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual, and is two times higher for questioning youth than it is for their straight peers. A national study found that 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt, 92% of those reported having attempted suicide before age 24. Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide when compared to their Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual peers who reported low or no levels of family rejection.

I don’t know about you, but I remember the night I heard about Leelah Alcorn, a 17 year old who ended her life on a stretch of Interstate-71 that I am very familiar with in Warren County Ohio. She left a note behind, saying that her family refused to acknowledge her gender and forbid her from officially transitioning. Even in her death, her family refused to acknowledge her gender, frequently being reported by news sources saying that “he was a good son.” I remember how Leelah’s story broke my heart, how I wished she had had someone to turn to for love and affirmation, how I wish someone had wrapped her up in their arms and told her she was loved, and that she had worth and value.

When our legislature sets out to protect a certain group of individuals, you would think that they would protect the ones actually facing discrimination, the ones who are dying in the streets, the ones who are attempting suicide at alarmingly high rates. But no, a bill to stop the REAL discrimination that LGBT Ohioans face has been stalled in the Ohio Legislature for years, and a bill to outlaw so called “conversion therapy” has also received no attention at all. In sharp contrast, the City of Columbus recently began the process to outlaw “conversion therapy” inside the city. At least some elected officials are willing to be leaders. Sadly Ohio legislators are choosing to instead fast-track House Bill 36, the so-called “Pastor Protection Act” which will redundantly state that pastors are not required to perform a marriage or use their sacred religious space for ceremonies for couples that they do not agree with.

Let me be clear: if pastors were facing discrimination, or there was any evidence or facts behind claims that they are, we could have a conversation about legislative protections. I am not anti-pastor, in fact several of my dear friends are ministers and I cherish their love and counsel. But this bill in unnecessary because pastors are already protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution marriage ceremonies against their will. It doesn’t matter what the reason is, it can be because they don’t support marriage equality for LGBT Ohioans, it can be because one of the people in the couple is not a member of their denomination, or it can be as simple as the pastor is just too busy that day.

Why again are we rushing through this bill when pastors are already protected?

The supporters of this legislation say they aren’t doing it from a place of hate, but the fact that they can’t empathize about how this bill is traumatic to thousands and thousands of Ohioans just shows how out of touch they are. I come from a loving home that accepted my coming out and never questioned my identity. I am a professional who works in a highly supportive environment, am in a long-term relationship and live in a welcome and supporting community. I am privileged, and even I am traumatized by the language and the speak coming out of this committee. If I feel that way, how would 17 year old Leelah have interpreted it?

The pastors who testified in support of the bill said they are scared, that they may be sued for refusing to perform a wedding. But you know what? There is no ACTUAL fact or evidence to back up those claims. But there are numerous facts and evidence that show that real harm is happening to LGBT Ohioans, especially our trans siblings and our youth. This bill is really all about making sure that the wishes of these pastors are fulfilled at the expense of people facing real discrimination and harm.

I am thankful for all the pastors who came out and testified against this bill. Over and over again they testified about how they are not the ones who need protection, that it was their members, their flock that should be the focus of legal protections.

I think one of those ministers said it best. So, I close this post with the conclusion of her testimony, and I challenge everyone to lead, not out of fear, but out of a place of compassion, and out of our unified need to feel protected in this world. I hope that another 17 year old out there who is scared and alone will hear these words, and they will know that they are loved and valued. That is all Leelah and thousands of other young people like her needed.

But the problem with fear is that often, it is not rooted in reality. Some of my fears were reasonable but many of them were not. In the scenario I referenced earlier, the best piece of advice I received was from a retired clergy woman, a long time mentor. She said simply, ‘whatever you do, don’t make the decision out of fear.’

So, I think you have a similar opportunity before you today. You have a piece of legislation that has been crafted and written and brought before you, and it is coming to you from a place of unfounded fear.

You can choose to advance that legislation further along – or take this extraordinary opportunity to be the voice of reason, to calm the voices that are marked by fear and to remind the wide range of people in our communities, those who fear the loss of their religious liberty and those LGBT couples who fear that they are being unnecessarily targeted that there is nothing to fear, and that the constitution of our country and our state, the laws of our land have created everything we need that we can live together, that our public life can be ordered in such a way that there is space for all people.

And so I urge you, to lead in this moment in a way that reminds us all that we do not need to be afraid.

Resources:

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicide or has attempted suicide the Trevor Project can be reached 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386 or by text or chat here.

If you would like to read more of the testimony you can find it on the Community and Family Advancement Committee website.

For more information on HB 36, the so-called “Pastor Protection Act” you can check out Equality Ohio and ACLU Ohio.

TransOhio has great resources for members of the Transgender community and their allies.

Kaleidoscope Youth Center is an amazing organization serving LGBT youth in Central Ohio.


Help build a pro-choice Ohio. Every day, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio fights to protect access to the full range of reproductive health care options—including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and safe & legal abortion care. We educate the public about the real threat to women’s healthcare posed by anti-choice legislation and policies. We mobilize pro-choice Ohioans to take political action to defend reproductive rights. And we are the voice for Ohio’s abortion clinics, helping them navigate the increasingly hostile climate created by extremist groups. But we need your help. As a member organization, we rely on your financial support to fund our important legislative, educational, and grassroots activities.

Contribute to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio

Blog Post

2017 WHO/O Bowl-a-thon

Oh, it’s on! And it’s spectacular. Every year, Women Have Options / Ohio supporters take it to the alleys — the bowling alleys — to raise money for abortion access in Ohio. NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio is a proud sponsor of this event!

Start a Team or Join a Team!

Here’s how it works: get a few friends together to start a team or join a team (come up with a great name) and help us bowl over barriers to abortion access.

As you know, discriminatory laws in Ohio have put abortions even more out of reach of many, and WHO/O is hustling overtime to try to help more people as things get harder.

And we really need your help!

Interested in limbering up your strike arm but you have a question or two? We’ve got answers!

Why should I bowl? To help WHO/O raise needed money to make abortion accessible for Ohioans
Where is it, again? In Columbus. Exact information about the bowling alley to come when you sign up!
When is it? Kickoff Event: March 2, 2017, at PINS Mechanical BOWL-A-THON: April 29, 2017
I can’t bowl! Oh, bowling skills are not required. All you need is a sense of humor and the drive to help folks who need abortion access!
I already signed up to bowl. That’s why you’re our hero! You’re already making a difference!

While the Hyde Amendment denies abortion coverage to low-income people, people of color, and others facing barriers to abortion coverage, our bowlers won’t stand for this aggression and they’re doing something about it!


Help build a pro-choice Ohio. Every day, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio fights to protect access to the full range of reproductive health care options—including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and safe & legal abortion care. We educate the public about the real threat to women’s healthcare posed by anti-choice legislation and policies. We mobilize pro-choice Ohioans to take political action to defend reproductive rights. And we are the voice for Ohio’s abortion clinics, helping them navigate the increasingly hostile climate created by extremist groups. But we need your help. As a member organization, we rely on your financial support to fund our important legislative, educational, and grassroots activities.

Contribute to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio

Blog Post

Apply to join “Patient to Advocates!”

Patients to Advocates is seeking applicants for the 2017 cohort! 

Patients to Advocates is a leadership development program for people who have had an abortion(s) and are interested in using their experience to become dynamic leaders within the reproductive health, rights, and justice movements. From March to November 2017, participants will meet twice a month in Cleveland to learn about abortion access, abortion stigma, and spirituality as it relates to reproductive health, storytelling, reproductive justice, policy, canvassing, media, and lobbying.

Patients to Advocates is a joint project of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Foundation, New Voices Cleveland, Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and Preterm.

Successful applicants are those who are pro-choice, interested in advocacy, and display a clear passion for the reproductive health, rights, and justice movements. Having had an abortion is a requirement to be in the program. Applications will continue to be accepted until all slots are filled.

Application and additional details can be found here.

Their work in 2016 involved a variety of efforts to talk to their community about the importance of abortion access. As a group, they were a part of the All Access concert in Cleveland to share a poem about their experiences.

More recently, they were interviewed by Bustle.


Help build a pro-choice Ohio. Every day, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio fights to protect access to the full range of reproductive health care options—including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and safe & legal abortion care. We educate the public about the real threat to women’s healthcare posed by anti-choice legislation and policies. We mobilize pro-choice Ohioans to take political action to defend reproductive rights. And we are the voice for Ohio’s abortion clinics, helping them navigate the increasingly hostile climate created by extremist groups. But we need your help. As a member organization, we rely on your financial support to fund our important legislative, educational, and grassroots activities.

Contribute to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio