Ohio is just one among many states currently in the midst of a Republican-led assault on reproductive rights, but while most lawmakers in the General Assembly have framed new abortion regulations in terms of health and safety, at least one anti-choice group is willing to be honest about what's driving the measures: a desire to end abortion access entirely.
In an interview with NRP News, Ohio Right to Life head Mike Gonidakis said that the objective wasn't simply to ban abortion through piecemeal restrictions -- because "there are things that are banned that occur every day." Instead, he said, innocuous sounding regulations about transfer agreements are meant to end abortion access entirely.
"Abortion is legal, so you must have incremental legislation to save as many babies as we can," said Gonidakis.
Ohio has a host of abortion restrictions in place -- including mandatory and coercive counseling meant to discourage people from terminating pregnancies, a 24-hour waiting period and insurance bans on abortion care -- but the measures that Gonidakis talked up were the regulatory restrictions on clinic rather than the procedure itself.
Abortion clinics in the state must have transfer agreements in place with local hospitals in order to remain open, but a law went into effect last year barring public hospitals from entering into these agreements. Four of the state's 14 abortion clinics have shuttered in the last year alone, and Cincinnati -- with its two remaining clinics in jeopardy because of the transfer agreement requirement -- could become the largest metropolitan area in the country without an abortion provider.
"When they initially put into the law the requirement of a transfer agreement, they said it was for the good of the women," Jerry Lawson, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio, told NPR. "Then they turn around and pass a law that says public hospitals can't have transfer agreements. Now, which is it — are you worried about the women, or are you interested in preventing abortions?"
As Gonidakis' comments make clear -- it's definitely the latter.