Abortion-rights supporters take to Fountain Square in nationwide 'Bans Off Our Bodies' protest
By 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Fountain Square was growing increasingly crowded, about an hour before a nationwide protest put together by Planned Parenthood was scheduled to start. In addition to Cincinnati, "Bans Off Our Bodies" demonstrations were held from Hawaii to Oklahoma and Washington, D.C., to protest a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturnRoe v. Wade, the landmark decision that ruled the U.S. Constitution protects a woman's right to an abortion.
Speakers included Mayor Aftab Pureval, who encouraged attendees to vote for Ohio Democratic nominees Nan Whaley and Tim Ryan for governor and U.S. Senate, respectively.
"Send (Whaley) to the governor's office and she will fight back against these fringe legislators and have your back," Pureval said.
Whaley has been a consistent supporter of abortion rights and on the campaign trail said she would veto any legislation passed by the Ohio General Assembly that would restrict women's access to abortions.
Ryan, meanwhile, recently told WVXU he was a "pro life" advocate until he realized that having an abortion is an intensely personal decision and that government has no business interfering with it.
"These are mostly the same people who were crying that having mask mandates to stop the spread of COVID was government interfering in their lives,'' Ryan told Senior Political Analyst Howard Wilkinson. "And, yet, they are telling women that government has control over their bodies. C'mon. And these people don't even see the irony in that."
On May 2, Politico released a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court that showed. a willingness to overturn Roe v. Wade — the 1973 decision that guaranteed constitutional protections of abortion — as well as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 decision that maintained the right.
"We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled," Justice Samuel Alito writes in the initial majority draft. "Roe was egregiously wrong from the start."
If Roe is reversed, it would not federally outlaw abortion; instead, it would shift the power to states to decide on the legality of the procedure. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 21 states are expected to immediately ban or limit access to abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned, including Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was endorsed by Ohio Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group. He has a strong record of opposing abortion, even back to his days as Ohio's attorney general and before that as a U.S. senator.
"It’s something we care very deeply about," he has said.
Meanwhile in Kentucky, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in April vetoed a bill that bans most abortions after 15 weeks and restricts access to abortion medication. However, the state's GOP-controlled legislature overrode his veto.
In Indiana, 100 Republicans (out of 110 in the General Assembly) signed a letter in March — before the draft opinion was released — asking Gov. Eric Holcomb to call a special session to “align” Indiana laws with the Supreme Court’s eventual ruling, WFYI reports.
NPR says activists have been rallying at the Supreme Court steps since the night the draft opinion was leaked.