On Nov. 23, students and allies of Cleveland State University gathered in the student center plaza to demonstrate against Ohio House Bill 480, and later marched around campus- an event organized by The CSU Society of Intersectional Feminists, in partnership with Queer Student Alliance, CSU college Democrats, LGBTQ+ Student Services, BSSS: Black Studies Sankota Society, Planned Parenthood: Generational Action, URGE: Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity.
OHB 480 was proposed on Nov. 2 and seeks to ban any person from obtaining or providing an abortion, with no exception of rape or incest. This bill mimics Texas Senate Bill 8 and would not be monitored by the state. Instead, citizens would be tasked with enforcing this law and may be granted $10,000 by reporting abortion violations and those involved in any capacity of aiding in abortion. This includes- but is not limited to- friends, family, acquaintances, Uber drivers, and doctors, who know about or provide someone with access to an abortion.
Texas Senate Bill 8 went into effect Sep. 1 and bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, typically at 6 weeks of pregnancy. OHB 480 is not currently law.
Vice President of CSU Society of Intersectional Feminists, Noa Cook, spoke out against Ohio House Bill 480 and Texas Senate Bill 8 at this demonstration:
“If Roe Vs. Wade is overturned, and this bill is passed, those in Ohio would be jeopardized of basic reproductive rights,” Cook explained, noting the severity of the cause. “Together, these bills severely, or almost entirely, restrict abortion access and criminalize providers.”
“Although Ohio House Bill 480 is in its early stages, this is serious! Lives, dreams, and futures are on the line. Basic human rights are actively being threatened,” Cook continued.
Next to speak at the demonstration were CSU students Giana Formica and Maaja Ashemu representing NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, who informed attendees about policy and how to get involved in taking action against Ohio House Bill 480 and those like it.
“Abortion access in the United States is being attacked every day in numerous ways, and sometimes, these attacks can be difficult to understand,” Formica stated. “These bills are written to be confusing and the media often uses anti-choice phrasing to describe what’s going on, passing on an initial bias.”
Formica then went on to explain OHB 480 and Texas Senate Bill 8, as well as Ohio Senate Bill 123 -a trigger ban, and the importance of becoming educated on these bills.
“A trigger ban entails that if the Supreme Court were to revoke Roe v Wade, abortion would be banned in the state of Ohio,” explained Formica. “12 states (Ohio would be 13) have a trigger ban in effect, and so if Roe v Wade is gutted or overturned completely, almost 30% of states in the country will have abortion as completely illegal.”
“On December 1, 2021, the Supreme Court of the United States is hearing a case about abortion that could potentially alter Roe’s standing,” Formica continued. “It is important to stay alert and follow along with legislation as things are moving in the statehouse and beyond.”
Following Formica, Ashemu explained the importance of getting involved and spreading awareness to others. She suggested 4 ways to do so- using your voice, registering to vote (and researching the candidates and their values), volunteering, and donating.
Ashemu challenged attendees to speak to at least two people about OHB 480 and abortion, using information learned through the demonstration.
“Open conversations with family and friends are the best way to discuss serious issues that you hold dear,” Ashemu shared.
“When conversing with others, be aware of the language that you use around abortion”, Ashemu continued. “Due to historical and racial reasons, a lot of us don’t even realize that the way we speak about abortion can be hurting our message. This is why it is important to use non-stigmatizing and inclusive language.”
Similarly, Marissa Stock from LGBTQ+ Student Services Center– located in Berkman Hall 211- emphasized the importance of inclusive language around abortion.
“We want to remind everyone here that not every person with the capacity for pregnancy identifies as a woman,” Stock stated. “We recognize that people who identify as men, non-binary, gender non-conforming, genderqueer and many other gender identities can become pregnant and seek abortions”
“We understand the fear of erasure associated with shifting away from the word ‘women’, but advancing equity in healthcare requires a more inclusive movement and vision,” Stock continued. “The same systems that threaten holistic care for pregnant and birthing folks also perpetuate violence against trans, queer, and gender-nonconforming people, which makes challenging these systems incredibly important.”
Continuing on with how to get involved, Ashemu highlighted the importance of volunteering for and donating to organizations supporting abortion access.
“Many of the grass-roots organizations that work day and night to support people’s rights to abortion access are under-funded and understaffed,” Ashemu stated, “Volunteering any amount of your time makes a huge difference!”
“If you cannot volunteer your time, volunteer your social media,” Ashemu continued. “A simple hashtag, meme, or Instagram story can change someone’s life! Some great resources to find on social media are URGE Ohio , NARAL Ohio and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio.”
This is not the first time that Ohio lawmakers have tried to restrict abortion access. In 2018, Ohio House Bill 493, also known as “heartbeat bill”, was introduced (and eventually passed but later vetoed). Ohio House Bill 493 sought to restrict any abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, and would result in a fifth-degree felony from anyone who performs an abortion.
At the demonstration, CSU student, Taylor Mariner, shared a personal story of a friend’s struggle during this time:
“One of my very close friends found herself pregnant, and she was not 18 and she was not sober during conception,” Mariner shared. “She really struggled in her decision to get an abortion because it was right around the time they introduced the heartbeat bill.”
“She was horrified that she was going to be stuck with a baby because they wanted to take away her rights to choose,” Mariner continued.
“In addition to focusing on policy, we really need to focus on supporting anyone who chooses to get an abortion, because it is not an easy decision.” Mariner concluded.“Whether or not you know it, I guarantee every single one of you knows someone who has gotten an abortion.”
Currently, there are only 9 abortion clinics in the state of Ohio: Preterm Ohio, Northeast Ohio Women’s Center Shaker Heights, Northeast Ohio Women’s Center Cuyahoga Falls, Planned Parenthood Bedford Heights, Planned Parenthood East Columbus, Women’s Med Center, and Planned Parenthood Cincinnati – which offer both surgical and medication abortions, and Capital Care of Toledo Ohio, and Your Choice Healthcare, that only offer medication abortions.
Ohio House Bill 480, Ohio Senate Bill 123, Texas Senate Bill 8, and bills like it are unconstitutional and take away a person’s right to choose what they do with their own body. Abortion rights are human rights. For more information on abortion or sexual health, contact Preterm Ohio -a non-profit abortion clinic, at 12000 Shaker Blvd, Cleveland Ohio -an 11-minute drive from CSU, or any of the above sources.