Protesters gather outside Supreme Court of Ohio, speak against abortion bans

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Around 100 people gathered outside the Supreme Court of Ohio Tuesday in support of legal abortion.  Credit: Casey Smith | Sports Producer

Around 100 people gathered outside the Supreme Court of Ohio Tuesday in support of legal abortion in the U.S.

Protesters, organized by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio and pro-choice speakers, voiced their concern for potential changes in abortion rights and the protection of Roe v. Wade, which they said can impact the rights for Ohio women.

Lucy Reed, a first-year in music, said it’s scary to think that this debate can continue in a progressive country. She said she wanted to express her freedom of speech to show legislatures how passionate the pro-choice community is about its right to reproductive freedoms.

“We’re not going to take this lying down,” Reed said. “As a woman and someone who knows a lot of women who have been affected by abortion, it’s definitely scary, and it seems weird to think about it.”

The protest comes after Politico leaked a Supreme Court opinion draft Monday, revealing that the court may overturn Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that protects a woman’s liberty to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. The Court is deliberating on the ruling of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, concerning a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

According to Oyez , in Roe v. Wade the Supreme Court ruled against a state from violating a person’s right to privacy under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause , which the ruling states “protects a pregnant woman’s choice whether to have an abortion.”

Under the ruling, a state may not impose regulations during the first trimester — around the first 12 weeks — of a woman’s pregnancy, according to Oyez. However, the state may regulate abortions in the second trimester — from around 13-25 weeks — and ban them in the third trimester — from around 26-40 weeks — with the exception of cases where the woman’s life is threatened.

The Ohio Right to Life said in a statement Monday that it stands with the Supreme Court to “overturn the most reckless decision in our Nation’s history” and hopes the Ohio General Assembly will pass the Ohio Right to Life’s Human Life Protection Act to make abortion illegal.

“It is hard to articulate though just how momentous this could be,” Ohio Right to Life said. “For nearly 50 years our country has allowed over 62 million children to be killed by abortion. Now is our time to stop this. It is our time to rebuild the culture of life. It is time for Roe to go.”

The opinion draft, written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, also overturned the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision that reaffirmed the basic principles of Roe v. Wade, according to the document.

According to Ohio Law , abortion is legal until a woman reaches 20 weeks of pregnancy. Anyone who aids in the performance of an abortion after this time period can be criminally charged.

Ohio Senate Bill 123 , or the Enact Human Life Protection Act, was sent to the Senate Health Committee in March 2021. In March 2022, Ohio House Republicans also introduced an identical  Enact Human Life Protection Act , which bans abortions except in life-threatening situations.

Ko Rupert, a fourth-year in political ecology, said they believe Ohio will criminalize abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, which means the state’s legal systems are failing at representing the popular opinion. A majority of Americans approve of abortion under all or certain circumstances, according to a 2021 Gallup poll .

“It’s just terrifying for a lot of reasons, and like everyone has said over and over again, illegal abortions will continue to happen, and abortions that aren’t governed by laws will continue to happen,” Rupert said. “It’s just we need to make sure that we’re really working to make it so it, when abortion is illegal in Ohio, it remains safe, and there is still access for people to go out of state and have abortions.”

Jacob Benge, Casey Smith and Madison Kinner contributed reporting.

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