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COLUMBUS -- The Republican head of the Ohio Senate and Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted participated in a memorial Jan. 23 at the Statehouse marking the 44th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion.
The Columbus Right to Life event was one in a series of comparable events taking place in Ohio and around the country to draw attention to Roe v. Wade and efforts by abortion opponents to end the practice. A national march is planned for Jan. 27 in Washington, D.C.
"The right to life is a foundational, fundamental right," Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) told dozens of people gathered in the Statehouse Atrium. "And as a parent, it is a right that I will fight to protect for future generations."
Obhof recounted efforts by state lawmakers to reduce the number of abortions in the state, most recently the enactment of legislation banning the procedure about 20 weeks after conception.
"All of this has been done under eight years of national politics and national policies that frankly have gone in the other direction, in the wrong direction, and have neglected the right to life," he said. "So think of what we can do in the next four."
Women's health advocates, however, voiced concern that Republicans at the state and federal levels would move to further restrict abortions.
Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said in a released statement, "As we move into 2017, politicians must not attack access to reproductive healt care services by continuing efforts to defund Planned Parenthood or to roll back the gains we made under the Affordable Care Act. Time and time again, Gov. Kasich and the Ohio legislature have put politics ahead of the health and wellbeing of women, with complete disregard for the impacts these policies will have. Congress and the Ohio legislature need to focus not on continuing these attacks, but on finding real solutions that improve health and improve a woman's ability to make the best reproductive health decision for her."
Ohio Right to Life, meanwhile, praised President Donald Trump Jan. 23 for signing an executive order banning taxpayer funding of overseas abortions, reinstating a policy that had been in place before President Barack Obama took office.
"After eight years of Barack Obama's pro-abortion policies, pro-life Americans are relieved to finally see their taxpayer dollars being safeguarded again," Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said in a released statement. "This is a momentous order by our new president and telling that he would time it with the tragic anniversary of Roe. Ohio Right to Life applauds President Trump for making de-funding the abortion industry one of his first orders of business."
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.