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From Innovation Ohio:
What The State Budget Means For Schools
Posted: March 4, 2017

Our local public schools are incredibly important pillars of our community, preparing our kids for their futures. Few things are more important. How are Ohio's elected officials doing in fulfilling their constitutional obligation of funding our K-12 schools? 

Find out for yourself

Our new, easy to use spreadsheet allows you to quickly find out what has happened to state support for your school under eight years of Republican budgets, including the impact of Governor Kasich's proposed budget for 2018-19.

Don't like what you see? Call your legislator and tell them you value what happens in our schools and you want them to be adequately funded.

Innovation Ohio, 35 E Gay St, Suite 403, Columbus, OH 43215


Save the NEA, NEH, and CPB
Posted: March 4, 2017 
 
You are doubtless aware of the budget proposal put forth by the current administration to eliminate federal funding for vital programs like the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which ensure access to and education in the arts and humanities. These moves would affect many people's lives in profound ways, but will do little to balance the budget.

Let's remember that the 2016 appropriations for those three programs were as follows: CPB received $445 million in 2016. (It gets additional funding from donors like you.) NEA got $148 million. NEH requested the same. The Congressional Budget Office figures that about $3.9 trillion was spent by the government during the fiscal year. The percentage of that total represented by the three appropriations? CPB: .01%; NEA: .003%; NEH .003%.
That's not nothing, which is the point that those seeking to balance the federal budget would be quick to point out. The problem is that on the scale of overall government spending, it's awfully close to nothing - meaning that it's not going to do much to change the bottom line. Especially given the concurrent promises to boost infrastructure and defense spending, protect Social Security and Medicare, and provide a multi-trillion-dollar tax reduction! So cuts to the NEA, the NEH, and the CPB are no more than distracting gestures to make it look like the administration is fulfilling its campaign pledges.
Read more about this here.
Please raise your voice against this. Call and write your representatives and senators, sign petitions - do all that you've done on so many other important issues.
Resources 
There is lots of good data about the impact of the arts and humanities on people and places. The National Humanities Alliance is working on several data gathering and mapping projects.
Americans for the Arts is also a hub for data and information about various federal arts agencies and arts education in America.
Data on the arts and humanities can also be found on the National Endowment for the Arts Facts & Figures page and the National Endowment for the Humanities Impact Reports.
This website is a running tally of all the programs that the NEA funded in 2016.
You can also search the NEA website to see all grants they have awarded since 1996. Check to see what organizations in your local area are funded by the NEA.
The same search for grants can be done on the NEH website.


From the League of Women Voters
No Repeal without Replace
Posted: February 6, 2017

Congress has taken the first steps to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in both the House and Senate. They are rushing to make major changes that will harm millions of Americans while throwing the U.S. health care system into disarray.

Tell Congress not to repeal the ACA without a replacement plan that will protect the care of millions of Americans. 

Repealing the ACA without an effective plan to replace it is unacceptable. An analysis done by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that 32 million Americans will lose health insurance, premiums will double and out of pocket costs will sky-rocket. Access to adequate, affordable coverage for people with pre-existing conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease could be endangered. Young adults would no longer be covered under their parent’s plans, and women could face discriminatory rates. 

Being a woman should not be a reason for paying higher premiums. Congress needs a plan that will provide quality coverage before they repeal the ACA.

The League is committed to ensuring that Americans have the coverage and access to care that they need to take care of themselves and their families. The League will not stand by while members of Congress dismantle protections for the health and well-being of the American public.

It is critical that you tell Congress that now is not the time to take away health care protections and coverage without an effective plan that will assure we have affordable, quality health insurance. Stand with the League today and tell Congress that they cannot repeal the ACA without a comprehensive plan to provide health coverage for all Americans. 

Sincerely,
Chris Carson, President, League of Women Voters

P.S. If you would rather call your members of Congress dial 866-426-2631 to be connected to them at any time. 
 


John Kasich signed a ban on abortion in Ohio after 20 weeks, with almost no exceptions
He also vetoed a six-week ban — but the 20-week ban is a bigger threat to Roe v. Wade and reproductive rights
Posted: December 13, 2016
 
Read more here
 


Fair Districts = Fair Elections
Posted: December 4, 2016

Check out the website of the Fair Districts = Fair Elections Coalition http://www.fairdistrictsohio.org/ for talking points for contacting your elected officials and other ways to take action in support of redistricting reform. 

The coalition is committed to ending the hyper-partisan way in which congressional districts are manipulated by the political party in power.  Committed to improving representational democracy, the coalition includes the League of Women Voters of Ohio, Common Cause Ohio, AAUW of Ohio, America Votes, Applied Information Resources, Asian Services in Action, Coalition on Housing and Homelessness in Ohio (COHHIO),  Columbus Chapter Alumnae of Delta Sigma Theta, Democratic Voices, Equality Toledo, Fair Elections Legal Network, Faith Coalition for the Common Good, Faith in Public Life,  Independent Lines Advocacy, Innovation Ohio, National Council of Jewish Women Cleveland Section, National Council of Jewish Women Columbus Section, No Labels Ohio, Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates, Nuns on the Bus Ohio, Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, Ohio Council of Churches, Ohio Environmental Council, Ohio Farmers Union, Ohio Student Association, Ohio Unity Coalition, Ohio Voice, Ohio Voter Rights Coalition,  ProgressOhio and Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio.  In the past, both political parties have drawn the district lines to favor their own political party and rigged the districts to create safe, uncompetitive  districts. And the voters lose! 


Robert Reich's First 100 Days Resistance Agenda
Posted: November 19, 2016 

Here’s the First 100 Days resistance agenda [with thanks to Alan Webber]: 

1. Get Democrats in the Congress and across the country to pledge to oppose Trump’s agenda. Prolong the process of approving choices, draw out hearings, stand up as sanctuary cities and states. Take a stand. Call your senator and your representative (phone calls are always better than writing). Your senator’s number: http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/. Your representative’s number: http://www.house.gov/representatives/

2. March and demonstrate—in a coordinated, well-managed way. The “1 Million Women March” is already scheduled for the Inauguration—and will be executed with real skill. See: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/11/15/counter-trump-women-are-mobilizing-massive-march-washington. There will be “sister” marches around the country—in LA and elsewhere. They need to be coordinated and orchestrated. And then? 1 Million Muslims? 1 Million Latinos? What would keep the momentum alive and keep the message going? 

3. Boycott all Trump products, real estate, hotels, resorts, everything. And then boycott all stores (like Nordstrom) that carry merchandise from Trump family brands. See: http://www.racked.com/…/136239…/grabyourwallet-trump-boycott. See also this Google document on boycotting.

4. Letters to Editors: A national letter-writing campaign, from people all over the country, every walk of life and every level of society, from celebrities to sports heroes to grassroots Americans. In most papers, the Letters to the Editor section is the most-read part of the paper. 

5. Op-Eds: A steady flow of arguments about the fallacies and dangers of Trump’s First 100 Day policies and initiatives, from name-brand thinkers and doers to ordinary folk writing for their city’s or community’s newspaper. 

6. Social media: What about a new YouTube channel devoted to video testimonials about resisting Trump’s First 100 Day Agenda? Crowd-sourced ideas, themes and memes. Who wants to start it? 

7. Website containing up-to-date daily bulletins on what actions people are planning around the country, and where, so others can join in. Techies, get organized. 

8. Investigative journalism: We need investigative journalists to dig into the backgrounds of all of Trump’s appointees, in the White House, the Cabinet, ambassadors and judges. 

9. Lawsuits: Our version of “Drill, baby, drill” is “Sue, baby, sue.” Throw sand in the gears. Lawyers, get organized. 

10. Coordinated fund-raising: Rather than having every public-interest group appeal on their own, have a coordinated fund-raising program to fill the coffers of the most endangered and effective opposition groups. Is there a way to do a televised fund-raiser with celebrities raising money for the resistance? 

11. Symbolic opposition: Safety pins are already appearing. What else? What more? Make the resistance visible with bumper stickers, a label pin, a branding campaign that has great language, great logo, great wristband (remember the Lance Armstrong “Livestrong” yellow wristband—it sold millions!). 

12. Intellectual opposition: Take Trump on where he’s weakest—with serious ideas. I’ll try to do my part. You do yours, too. 

13. Serious accountability: Establish performance metrics to evaluate his delivery on his campaign promises. An updated website of promises made and not kept. This is one especially suited to public policy students. 

14. Your idea goes here. Call a meeting of family and friends this weekend. Come up with to-dos. 

The First 100 Days Resistance Agenda. We’re not going away. 

Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His website is www.robertreich.org  


November 9, 2016 - Remember this:

There are several core beliefs that tie the Democratic party together: Democrats believe that we're greater together than we are on our own—that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. Our party is focused on building an economy that lifts up all Americans, not just those at the top.

That's why Democrats are working to make progress on issues like job creation, equal pay, education, health care, and clean energy. 

We have suffered a defeat. As has been said elsewhere, though, there is a way forward. We must set the example. We must keep working for good. We must be the conscience of our country. 


THE STAKES ARE SO HIGH

By Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post
Posted Sunday, November 6, 2016, Associated Pfess

WASHINGTON — This is no ordinary election. Time for a reminder of what’s at stake:

Climate policy and the clean-energy economy: For anyone who accepts the scientific consensus that global warming poses a clear and present danger, there is only one choice. Hillary Clinton will continue along the path laid out by President Obama and other world leaders. Donald Trump has claimed, ridiculously, that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese.

For the first time, the three nations most responsible for spewing heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere — China, the United States and India — have all formally agreed to curb emissions. The landmark Paris agreement is the biggest and most important step taken to date. Clinton would honor the accord; Trump would renounce it on his first day in office.

The rest of the world is moving rapidly toward renewable sources of energy, which recently surpassed coal as the largest global source of power-generating capacity. According to the International Energy Agency, last year an estimated 500,000 solar panels were installed worldwide every day. Clinton would encourage the growth of the clean-energy sector, which has the potential to create millions of jobs. Trump promises a renaissance of fossil fuels — mining more coal, pumping more oil — even though the electric-power industry is moving on.

The Western alliance: Since the end of World War II, NATO has been the globe’s most important military alliance, a bulwark against Soviet — now Russian — expansionism and a source of peace and prosperity. It is no accident that the United States and Europe are the world’s biggest economic powers.

Clinton may be a bit hawkish for some tastes, but she is firmly committed to the NATO security framework. Trump describes NATO as if it were a protection racket.

Trump has repeatedly and consistently expressed a desire for an alliance with Russia, even after it seized Crimea from Ukraine and intervened to save the murderous regime of dictator Bashar Assad in Syria. Trump often voices his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin — who, according to U.S. intelligence analysts, has deployed an army of internet hackers against the Democratic Party in a shocking and unprecedented attempt to meddle in our election. Trump has done nothing to refute Clinton’s claim that he would be Putin’s “puppet” in the White House.

Immigration reform: An estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants live here, most of them from Mexico and Central America. Clinton supports commonsense immigration reform that would secure the southern border, modernize our system of legal immigration and bring the undocumented out of the shadows by giving them legal status and a path toward citizenship. Trump does not.

Trump launched his campaign by saying of Mexican immigrants: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” He has called for building a physical wall along the entire border with Mexico, and absurdly claimed that Mexico would somehow pay for it. And he pledges to deport all of the undocumented, in what would amount to a massive campaign of ethnic cleansing. Doing so would require a gargantuan and intrusive deportation force the likes of which this country has never imagined, let alone witnessed.

The social fabric: The country is undergoing a process of inexorable demographic change. By 2044 if not sooner, according to the Census Bureau, there will be no racial or ethnic majority; non-Hispanic whites, in other words, will be less than 50 percent of the population, becoming a minority just like every other group. This is already the case in California, Texas, New Mexico and Hawaii; and nationwide among children under 5.

Clinton understands and embraces these changes. Trump, by contrast, has become the champion of those whites who, like King Canute, would hold back the sea. It is no accident that he is avidly supported by the likes of David Duke, the unabashed white nationalist, Holocaust denier and former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. When Trump says “Make America Great Again,” many minorities hear “Make America White Again.”

Fiscal sanity: Clinton proposes new spending — including to improve the Affordable Care Act — that would increase the national debt by $250 billion over the next decade, according to the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Trump’s combination of huge tax cuts and increased spending, however, would balloon the debt by a crushing $10 trillion over the same period.

I could go on, but you get the point. Donald Trump gravely threatens our future. He must be stopped.

 


The (Unfair) Planned Parenthood Debate in Ohio 
Posted November 25, 2015

On Friday, November 20, Ohio Rep. Kathleen Clyde lodged a formal protest after Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger cut off debate and refused to allow her to deliver a floor speech against Sub H.B. 294 to defund Planned Parenthood.

Here is Clyde's undelivered speech:

"This is a rare occasion today. The Ohio House is about to pass a bill that will increase the number of abortions in Ohio. That’s right. By cutting access to birth control, sex education and other vital services that are all part of women’s healthcare, this bill will increase unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

"We are not even pretending anymore that the tidal wave of abortion restrictions are just about abortion. This bill and its many companions are about shaming, judging and controlling women. This bill attacks:

* women’s choice to use birth control,

* women’s and men’s sex education,

* women’s safety,

* women’s and men’s protection from STIs,

* even women’s healthy pregnancies,

* and all the pieces that are essential to women’s healthcare.

"This bill is nonsensically trying to fence off abortion even further from all the other pieces of women’s healthcare and if that means those other healthcare services have to disappear, so be it. That’s what is really going on here. This bill will hurt women, girls, and the men who also choose Planned Parenthood.

"The bill imposes a gag rule on any organization, not just Planned Parenthood, that provides rape and dating violence education, cancer care, infertility prevention, HIV/AIDS services, and infant mortality prevention IF that organization even mentions abortion as an option to women. With no exception for the life and health of the girl or woman.

"Who is going to take over the programming that is offered by the experts at Planned Parenthood and other women’s clinics? Is it going to be all abstinence-only-until-marriage across the state? People that tell girls and women they are asking for it if they experience dating violence? Is that who we will entrust our education to now? This bill uses Planned Parenthood as a stand-in punching bag for Ohio’s women. By defunding Planned Parenthood, you are showing women where they are on your priority list – the very bottom.

"The demonizing of Planned Parenthood has led to vandalism and violence at clinics, broken doors, smashed offices and equipment, arson in some states. That means that women and men seeking birth control, well visits, STI treatment are having to go to clinics with ramped-up security and bulletproof glass.

"I have frequently said there is a war on women in Ohio and in the country. At times it has felt that way. But we’ve crossed the line from war into something worse. Abuse of women. Violence against women. One of the many witnesses who spoke out against this bill said she discusses power-based forms of violence with her students. These are forms of violence that occur when someone in a position of authority uses their power or status to coerce, assault, or violate a person’s autonomy. She said “It seems to me, that these bills are, in fact, flying against the values of the Violence Against Women Act, because people (mostly men) in positions of authority are using their power to coerce women into unhealthy situations, close women’s health clinics, and silence women’s voices about sexual health options.”

"This isn’t war. We had Veterans Day last week and I felt proud of the brave men and women who served our country in war, served with honor. There is no bravery and there is no honor in what we are doing to Ohio’s women with this bill. There is no bravery or honor in shaming women, judging women, taking away healthcare from women. There is no bravery or honor in what we are doing here today.

"I stand with Planned Parenthood and urge a no vote on House Bill 294."

 

 

 

 

 


The Myth of the 'moderate' John Kasich
By Ohio State Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni
USA Today 
August 18, 2015

There has been no shortage of surprises in the Republican presidential race so far. More startling than Donald Trump’s lead in the polls, however, has been the nationwide characterization of Ohio’s governor, John Kasich, as a “moderate” Republican.

Pundits and politicians alike have described Kasich as a thoughtful Republican from a swing state who expanded Medicaid and attended a gay wedding.

As Minority Leader in the Ohio Senate, I can tell you my job would be a whole lot easier if John Kasich were actually a moderate.

Yes, Kasich did make the decision to expand Medicaid, and Democrats in Ohio helped him do it. What you don’t hear, though, is that Kasich refused to set up a state-run insurance exchange due to his opposition to Obamacare — an exchange that could have been tailored to the specific needs of Ohioans.

Kasich’s right-wing stances on healthcare have directly harmed women in our state. AsThe New York Times explained in 2013, “Ohio has become a laboratory for what anti-abortion leaders call the incremental strategy — passing a web of rules designed to push the hazy boundaries of Supreme Court guidelines without flagrantly violating them.”

Seven of 16 Ohio abortion clinics have closed since Kasich became governor, and an eighth stopped providing abortions. These closures were the direct result of extreme anti-choice legislation he signed into law. among other things, he signed legislation that blocked abortion providers from entering into emergency transfer agreements with public hospitals.

In this year’s budget, Kasich proposed cutting Medicaid coverage for pregnant women and those diagnosed with breast and cervical cancer if their income was between $16,000 and $23,000. His suggestion would have disqualified around 3,000 women from Medicaid and could have left them without life-saving coverage.

His proposal was so outlandish his own party restored funding to those Ohioans.

Sadly, Kasich’s constant attacks on women’s health have come as Ohio continues to have one of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation. Despite this fact, Kasich’s budgets limit funding for family planning groups to use on preventive care for working poor and middle class women, including prenatal care. Not sure how this qualifies him to be labeled a “compassionate conservative.”

Kasich’s less-than moderate values are also clear in the projects and services he views as expendable that would have benefited families.

In his very first budget, Kasich flat out cut $1.8 billion in funding for public schools across Ohio, leaving over 100 K-12 school districts with crippling budget deficits, and forcing local school districts to ask voters to back multi-million dollar emergency funding levies.

All of this, while steering hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into a scandal-ridden charter school system, which has seen failing grades and has been called “the most troubled in the country” — A move pushed by a charter-school operators who made the maximum legal contribution to Kasich’s political campaign along with his wife.

Kasich has given huge tax breaks to the rich, while nearly half of Ohio families and my constituents are living paycheck to paycheck. His prioritization of trickle-down economics places him directly in line with the most conservative members of theRepublican Party.

Another example of Kasich’s moderate myth is his stance on LGBT rights. During the Fox News debate, Kasich said he would treat a hypothetical LGBT child with unconditional love. He also said he has attended a gay wedding. However, without the Supreme Court’s marriage decision, there would never have been a gay wedding in Ohio to attend. Kasich supported an Ohio constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Kasich’s administration actively opposed marriage equality until it was told to do otherwise by the Supreme Court. To this day, Kasich has refused to lead on LGBT issues, and there are places in Ohio where you can still be fired for being gay because he said we should not worry about the risk of that happening and has yet to take up the issue.

Regardless, you can still be denied a mortgage or service in a restaurant for being gay. Kasich’s willingness to attend a wedding does nothing to improve the lives of LGBT Ohioans that he could protect.

Had Kasich been a moderate, willing and able to work with both sides, he would have considered the opinions of Ohio citizens and business leaders. Instead, Kasich has repeatedly shoved his own agenda through the legislature and signed bills in private in an attempt to avoid scrutiny and resistance.

John Kasich is no moderate. His words are just prettier packaging for the same right-wing agenda of the other GOP presidential candidates.

Sen. Joe Schiavoni is the minority leader of the Ohio Senate.

 


The Audacity of Being a Woman
Ohio State Representative Greta Johnson
Cleveland.com
August 9, 2015

Eighteen months ago, I didn't believe there was a war on women. I'd heard the phrase thrown around in discussions of pay equity and reproductive rights. As a prosecutor of special victims' cases, I'd heard the statistics about women and girls and their likelihood of becoming victims of sexual assault. But, if you would have asked me if there was a systematic war by our government and society on women, I would have told you no. Unequivocally, no.  

I was raised by parents who assured me that if I worked hard enough, I would accomplish whatever I set out to do. They raised me to be audacious enough to demand that my voice be heard. And, it worked. I accomplished my goals. My voice was heard. Time and again.

Academic, athletic and professional accomplishments rewarded my audacious demands for success. And the audacity to think I could serve the 35th Ohio House District worked, too.  

So, it came as a huge shock to me to find myself in an elected state office declaring for the first time in my life: "The war on women is real." It, too, is audacious.

It took becoming an elected public servant to see firsthand how truly systemic the problem is.

I acknowledge that a certain amount of privilege is reflected in my 38 years of ignorance about the battle. I was raised in a working class home by two devoted parents. I was able to put myself through school and achieve my dream job of being a trial lawyer and prosecuting cases for the state of Ohio.  When I was underestimated or undervalued in a classroom, gymnasium or courtroom, it was an advantage -- in my mind. That way, they never saw the audacity of me coming.

I know the feeling. The realization that I was different, that I was being treated differently, that I was representing and serving a different population, hit me all at once — I never saw it coming.

I'd stood on the House floor, decrying the six-week abortion ban with zero exceptions for rape and incest. The majority members rolled their eyes and snickered. I'd watched in horror as GOP men booed Denise Driehaus (Democrat of Cincinnati) the ranking member of our finance committee. She stood up to speak about Ohio's budget and they booed her. And, no one stopped them.

Kent Smith (Democrat of Euclid) was gaveled down on the floor whilst trying to bring attention to the lack of pay equity. He was right. They just didn't want to hear it.

Teresa Fedor (Democrat of Toledo) stood on the House floor to bravely speak her truth about her own sexual assault and abortion, and they laughed. When Kathleen Clyde (Democrat of Kent) stood to make an amendment to the state budget calling for an end to the wage gap, the women of the GOP moved to table the vote.

These are the partisan battles -- rooted in a dismissive philosophy of women's access to health care and equitable treatment -- that make up an audacious war. 

So, it comes as no surprise now, that the outright assault on women is being fought through hugely publicized grainy surveillance video that has since been discredited and relegated to less coverage than an editor's spelling correction on the back page, below the fold. It is shameful.

Now, House Bill 294 aims to defund all medical service providers that perform elective abortions. Despite the fact, and law, that prevents public dollars from paying for any abortion services, that's not good enough. Now, the GOP wants to defund birth control, STD testing, cervical cancer screens, HIV treatment, all of it. Wiped out because they don't trust women. The audacity of a woman to make medical decisions about her reproductive health is too much for the majority to take.  

What is most fascinating is that what HB 294 truly sets out to do -- end all elective abortions -- will fail miserably. Jettisoning access to birth control will simply lead to more unintended pregnancies and, thus, more abortions. Eliminating access to safe legal abortions will not make abortions go away. It will make them dangerous and deadly. HB 294 puts the women and families of Ohio at risk. More than half of Ohio is made up of women. Less than on- third of Ohio's state representation is made up of women. The cracks are starting to show and the war is real.

I watched with relief last week as the U.S. Senate blocked a bill to eliminate federal funding from elective abortion providers. I can only hope the Ohio House is audacious enough to follow suit.

Greta Johnson is a freshman Democratic legislator in the Ohio House of Representatives and former assistant county prosecutor from Akron. She is married and the mother of two daughters. 


Why I Spoke Out About My Rape and Abortion
Ohio State Representative Teresa Fedor 
Time
March 30, 2015

As an Ohio Legislator, I have witnessed, for nearly 15 years, legislation introduced that intends to marginalize or completely eliminate a woman's reproductive rights. The most recent and arguably worst offender is House Bill 69, termed, Ohio's "heartbeat bill," which would ban an abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. This bill allows no exceptions for victims of incest or rape, but only ones when a mother's life is endangered or when she is at risk of serious physical impairment. This means a woman undergoing or physician performing an abortion could be charged with a fifth-degree felony.

Last week, I again found myself enduring the arguments by those in support of House Bill 69. As one legislator after another spoke and gave no reason for excluding victims of incest or rape as exceptions, I felt the overwhelming need to voice my opinion regarding the potential impact of such inhumane legislation. I could no longer be silent.

As I was recognized to speak in the debate on the bill, which passed the House, my frustration was at its peak. At the core of my opposition lay a very personal story, but one that I would have to disclose in order to underscore the seriousness of leaving out these exceptions. In one moment, without having planned to speak out beforehand, I made it known that over 35 years ago; I had been a victim of rape and underwent an abortion while serving in the military. Because this happened to me at such a young age, I refused to let this victimization define who I was going to be. More importantly, I was thankful I had the freedom to make this decision-back then. Unfortunately, it is this freedom that could be stripped from women today.

As the words poured out of me, I proclaimed, "You don't respect my reason, my rape, my abortion, and I guarantee you there are other women who should stand up with me and be courageous enough to speak that voice. What you're doing is so fundamentally inhuman, unconstitutional, and I've sat here too long. I dare any one of you to judge me, because there's only one judge I'm going to face.

I dare you to walk in my shoes. This debate is purely political. I understand your story, but you don't understand mine. I'm grateful for that freedom. It is a personal decision, and how dare government get into my business."

As a young victim, I made a decision not to carry my pregnancy to full-term. I also know that many women who've been victimized by rape make a different decision and carry their pregnancies to full-term. There is no right or wrong answer, and I respect either decision. But it is a personal freedom that should be determined only by the woman whose life it impacts, not by the government.

As an elected official and public servant, I continue to stay true to what I believe is the right thing to do. For nearly a decade, I tirelessly promoted legislation to protect Ohio's most vulnerable against the scourge of human trafficking. I am proud to have authored Ohio's first of several anti-human trafficking bills, setting a precedent throughout our state and country. Comparable to the abortion debate, this issue was widely misunderstood, and others ridiculed or minimized what I fought for.

Sadly, over the last four years, state governments have enacted 231 laws limiting access to abortion, with 26 new laws being passed in 2014, according to an analysis by the Guttmacher Institute. Over the years I have felt that the escalating war on our reproductive freedom will require more voices speaking out at the risk of judgment and stigma in our culture. However horrific the circumstances, I was proud to speak truth to that power.

Teresa Fedor represents Ohio's 45th district in the House of Representatives.


Why I changed my thinking on abortion
By Congressman Tim Ryan
January 27, 2015 

There are many factors involved when a woman decides to end a pregnancy, and over the past 14 years in political office, I have gained a deeper understanding of the complexities and emotions that accompany the difficult decisions that women and families make when confronted with these situations.

I was elected to political office at a young age, and being raised in a Catholic household, always considered myself pro-life. My faith is important to me, and like many Catholics I strive to adhere to its principles, especially one of the essential and highest teachings of "judge not, lest ye be judged." I've heard firsthand from women of all ages, races and socioeconomic backgrounds about the circumstances and hardships that accompany this personal choice, which we should not judge.

I have sat with women from Ohio and across the nation and heard them talk about their varying experiences: abusive relationships, financial hardship, health scares, rape and incest. There are endless stories about women in troubling situations - the woman who became pregnant and has a violent spouse; the woman who lost her job and is unable to afford another child; or the underage girl worried she'll be thrown out of her house if she reveals her pregnancy.

These are just a few of the many stories I have heard. Each of these women lived through difficult and personal situations with few options and no clear path to take. This is why there is no easy answer.

These women gave me a better understanding of how complex and difficult certain situations can become. And while there are people of good conscience on both sides of this argument, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: the heavy hand of government must not make this decision for women and families.

As my friend and colleague U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro says, "Nobody celebrates abortion." No woman makes this decision lightly. Each and every American deserves the right to deal with these difficult situations in consultation with their families, close friends or religious advisers. No federal or state law banning abortion can honestly and fairly take into account the various circumstances that make each decision unique.

Where government does have the ability to play a significant role is in giving women and families the tools they need to prevent unintended pregnancies by expanding education and access to contraception. We must get past the ignorance, fear and - yes - discrimination against women that lead to restrictions on contraception and age-appropriate sex education.
Only then can we hope to continue to make significant advances in what should be our true, shared objective: reducing the number of unintended pregnancies, which make up the vast majority of abortions. Isn't that a simple approach on which we all could agree? This is not a partisan issue, but instead a personal one.

During my time in Congress, I have authored and supported many proposals to help women prevent unplanned pregnancies, support prevention education, teach teens about values and healthy relationships and ensure access to contraception by increasing funding for family planning programs. We can all come together - Republicans, Democrats and independents - to create a comprehensive and common-sense legislative agenda that ensures new mothers have access to affordable health care, housing and healthy food. It is my hope that through these efforts abortions will rarely be necessary.

On June 12, 2014, my wife and I were blessed when our son, Brady Zetts Ryan, came into the world. With the birth of this healthy baby boy, our lives were forever changed. I'm mindful that my wife and I were fortunate enough to bring Brady into a prepared family full of love and devotion.

While I wish that for every child and every family, I know it is not always the case. Some couples are unprepared to become parents at that moment, and some families who are looking forward to a child may experience complications during the pregnancy. All these circumstances - and many more - require tough decisions. There are too many scenarios, too many variables and too much complexity for pregnancy to be anything but a personal decision.

Today, I am a 41-year-old father and husband whose feelings on this issue have changed. I have come a long way since being a single, 26-year-old state senator, and I am not afraid to say that my position has evolved as my experiences have broadened, deepened and become more personal. And while I have deep respect for people on both sides of this conversation, I would be abandoning my own conscience and judgment if I held a position that I no longer believed appropriate.

I have come to believe that we must trust women and families - not politicians - to make the best decision for their lives.

Ryan, a Democrat, represents the 13th U.S. House District. It includes Youngstown, Warren, Ravenna and part of Akron.


Making Our Voices Heard
Posted November 23, 2014
 
According to American Women (online at americanwomen.org, 11/16/14), women:

1. Currently account for 50.8% of the United States population.
2. Make 85% of the consumer purchases in our country. 
3. Account for 58% of online retail dollars. 
4. Make 85% of the healthcare decisions.  
5. Constitute 53% of voters, yet continue to be underrepresented in board rooms and legislative chambers across the country. 
6. Face state and federal legislation that ignores their needs, priorities and concerns – and often directly harms them. 
7. 40% of American households with children under 18 include a mother who is either the sole or primary earner for their families.
8. Women in the United States earn 77% of what men earn. 
9. Wage discrimination limits women’s choices and hurts families. 
10. More women than ever before are earning college degrees but then cannot find affordable child care options, forcing them to choose between earning a living and raising a family. 
 
Since 2012, more than 1,000 provisions were introduced at the state legislative level related to women’s health care, many of which negatively impacted women’s health care choices or access and many of those worked to limit women’s access to affordable, quality health care.


Remember this:
As Democrats, we stand for...

 
  • Civil Rights
  • The Economy and Job Creation
  • Education
  • Energy Independence
  • The Environment
  • Fair Elections
  • Health Care
  • Immigration Reform
  • National Security
  • Open Government
  • Science and Technology
  • Retirement Security
  • Voting Rights

...and we must hold our leaders accountable - now more than ever.

Cuyahoga Democratic Women's Caucus
Email: info@cuyahogadwc.org
Telephone: 216-470-6622