• Richard Cummins

    HOT IN COLUMBUS

    Ohio Women Protest Abortion Law

    Say state limits violate their rights.

    Women’s rights groups in Ohio are up in arms over new budget provisions that would essentially cut off Planned Parenthood, among other restrictions, and they’re not afraid to show it. In an effort to combat the new legislation, hundreds of women advocates took to the west plaza of the statehouse in Cleveland yesterday to rally against Gov. John Kasich and what they say are attacks on women’s health care. The legislation took effect on September 30 and banned abortion clinics from signing transfer agreements with local hospitals and established funding for crisis-pregnancy centers, which don’t perform abortions. “The nation is watching Ohio and we got your back,” says National Organization for Women President Terry O’Neill. According to a recent CNN report, seven in 10 Americans believe that health insurance companies should cover the full cost of birth control, just as they do with other preventive services. 

    Permalink
  • Anti-abortion advocates have grown increasingly vocal recently. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

    Heartbeat Crusader

    The Abortion Warrior

    Janet Folger Porter, the woman driving the ‘heartbeat bill’ fight in Ohio, talks to Michelle Cottle.

    Even the everlasting battle for America’s soul has its hot trends. And these days, among anti-abortion-rights activists, “heartbeat bills” are all the rage. In early March, Arkansas outlawed most abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy, at which point a fetal heartbeat typically can be detected by abdominal ultrasound. Passed over the veto of Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, the Human Heartbeat Protection Act stood as the nation’s most restrictive ban for not quite two weeks, at which point North Dakota passed an even more stringent heartbeat bill that could block abortions starting at around six weeks. Lawmakers in Mississippi and Kansas have taken steps down a similar path, while those in various other states—Georgia, Michigan, Oklahoma—reportedly have expressed interest as well. Most dramatically, the Ohio legislature, where the first such bill surfaced in 2011, has been locked in a bloody battle over the issue for more than two years. Meanwhile, conservative pols from Rick Perry to Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann to Newt Gingrich are lining up in support of such efforts.

    At the center of this whirlwind stands Janet Folger Porter. A former legislative director of Ohio Right to Life, Porter is in many ways the godmother of the heartbeat movement. The inspiration for the crusade struck her in November 2010, at the funeral of her old boss from Right to Life, recalls Porter. “I was overwhelmed by the revelation that we don’t have much time on planet Earth. I thought, ‘We’ve got to end this, and we need to end it now.’” Porter immediately (yes, right there at the funeral) began rallying anti-abortion-rights colleagues, and before long she’d assembled a team of attorneys to craft a bill.

    Permalink
  • Mike Munden/Getty

    HERE WE GO AGAIN

    Abortion Regulations Added to Ohio Bill

    If passed, last-minute amendment may force clinics to close.

    Texas’s sweeping anti-abortion bill may have been defeated, but the push to restrict abortion at the state level continues. A last-minute change to the Ohio state budget bill that was passed last night would ban abortion clinics from having transfer agreements with public hospitals. Because the state requires all ambulatory surgical facilities, including abortion providers, to have such hospital agreements, the bill would force many clinics to close. Among other anti-abortion provisions in the bill is one requiring doctors to perform ultrasounds on women seeking abortions and inform them of the presence of a fetal heartbeat and another that would made it difficult for Planned Parenthood to access state family-planning money. The Republican majority is “obsessed with abortion,” said state representative Mike Foley, a Cleveland Democrat.

    Permalink
  • Trent Mays, 17, left, and 16-year-old Ma'lik Richmond sit at the defense table before the start of their trial on rape charges in juvenile court on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 in Steubenville, Ohio. Mays and Richmond were found delinquent on Sunday of raping a 16-year-old West Virginia girl last August 2012. (Keith Srakocic/AP)

    Hearing set for next week will determine whether to classify the convicted as sex offenders.

    The two high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio, who were recently convicted of raping a 16-year old girl, will soon find out whether they face a future as classified sex offenders. A hearing, scheduled for next week, is the potential first step in transferring defendants Ma'lik Richmond and Trent Mays from the juvenile detention center, where they are currently housed, to a facility specializing in working with sex offenders. The hearing would also determine what sex offenders level the teens would be assigned to.

    Permalink
  • Amanda Berry, right, hugs her sister Beth Serrano after being reunited in a Cleveland hospital Monday May 6, 2013. Berry and two other women were found in a house near downtown Cleveland Monday after being missing for about a decade. (WOIO-TV/AP, Uncredited)

    ‘I’m Free Now’

    What Happened in Cleveland

    Three women have been rescued after 10 years in captivity in a Cleveland house. What we know so far.

    On Monday night, Amanda Berry, 27, ran out of a house in Cleveland and into the arms of a passing man and told him who she was and that she had been missing for 10 years. On a chilling 911 call, Berry told the dispatcher, “Help me, I am Amanda Berry … I have been kidnapped and I have been missing for 10 years and I’m here. I’m free now.” She identified her captor as Ariel Castro, and when police arrived they found two other women, Gina DeJesus, now 23, and Michele Knight, now 32. Here’s what we know so far about the case.

    Who Was Rescued

    Permalink