Man being dragged across the floor by two uniformed policemen

Columbus Police Officer, badge ID 2187, draged activist Bryan Georgilis by his head as a Columbus Police Seargent, Meyer, endorsed the officer's head dragging technique last Friday to remove Georgilis from the Columbus Riffe Center, along with 10 other pro-choice activists who refused to leave the building in an International Women's Day action.  Georgilis, a member of Cincinnati Socialist Feminist Coalition, and Democratic Socialists of America said, "My first thought was he was looking for a pressure point,"  but then he was draged ten feet by his head.  

The Ohio Senate passed SB23 yesterday to restrict abortion to the first six weeks of a woman’s pregnancy, in a vote of 19 to 13.

Republican Senator Kristina Roegner, the sponsor of the bill, told the Columbus Free Press after the vote, “The next step naturally is that it will go to the House Health Committee chaired by Derek Merrin (R) where the sponsor is Representative Keller (R).”

A Republican majority in the Ohio House of Representatives is expected to pass the bill, and Ohio’s new Republican Governor Mike DeWine has promised to sign it into law.

Senator Roegner introduced the bill in the senate session, and criticized the Supreme Court Ruling Roe v Wade (1973) which protects a woman’s right to an abortion based in her right to privacy regarding her body and her personal medical care. Roegner claimed Roe v Wade created a “moving target” by defining human personhood as beginning when the fetus is able to survive outside the womb and said, “We need a new standard. The heartbeat bill provides this new standard.”

These bills have been called heartbeat bills by proponents, because it prohibits abortion once a heartbeat is detected by a medical practitioner, which occurs around 6 weeks from conception. The Dayton Daily News reported Monday that, “In 2017, there were 20,893 induced abortions in Ohio, a 1-percent increase over 2016, according to a report from the Ohio Department of Health. Of those, 11,784 were performed at nine weeks or less of gestation, 6,084 at between nine and 12 weeks, 2,935 at 13 to 20 weeks and 90 at 21 weeks or more.” So third trimester abortions in Ohio are recorded as less than one percent. The abortion bill would restrict abortions on an overwhelming majority of women seeking abortions in Ohio currently.

The bill, Senator Roegner said, has an exception for when a women’s life is in danger, but “not for rape or incest, because how you’ve conceived makes no difference on whether you’ve conceived.” Senator Nickie Antonio (D) proposed an amendment that would allow for this rape and incest exception but the amendment was voted down.

Senator Antonio told the Columbus Free Press after the vote, “If you’re going to put forth such a restrictive bill, to the point where a woman doesn’t even necessarily know she is pregnant…and to victimize a sexual assault survivor by forcing her to have a child, I don’t believe there is any humanity in that.”

Before passing SB23 the Senate session began with a prayer which included the wish to “protect those fetal unborn babies,” followed by the Christian “lord’s prayer,” in which a section of the audience murmured along in unison, before the pledge of allegiance. During the discussion of the bill Carolyn Harding, host of local WGRN radio program Grassroot Ohio, started chanting slogans repetitively and was escorted out. She said, “Sep-ar-ate, church and state. Separate, church and state.” as well as “Stop the bans.”  

Only last December former Governor John Kasich, a Republican, vetoed a similar bill, and an attempt to override the veto with a vote of two thirds majority was successful in the House of Representatives, but failed in the Senate by 1 vote, 20 to 19.

Sarah Inskeep, The Communication and Digital Manager with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, the legislative and advocacy arm of Planned Parenthood, said that if SB23 becomes law, “this would be the crown jewel to effectively outlaw abortion in this state” because many women six weeks pregnant don’t know they are pregnant.

This is not the first attempt by the Ohio legislature to pass this bill. Bill Sponsor Senator Roegner wrote in her sponsor testimony 13 February 2019, “I am merely picking up this torch in the final stretch of what is turning into a 9 year legislative marathon.”

In fact, Roegner said she had co-sponsored a similar bill 4 times before being the primary sponsor on this one. So called heartbeat bills are sweeping state houses around the country with Tennessee’s Senate passing one on February 7th, Kentucky’s House on February 14th, and Georgia’s House on March 7th, less than a week ago.

There is a Republican governor expected to sign the bill if it comes to his office in each of these four states where these abortion bills have recently passed one house of congress, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia. Several states have already signed this type of bill into law years ago, only to have the state or federal courts rule against the law.

But now things are thought to be different after President Donald Trump successfully appointed BrettKavanaugh to the US Supreme Court breaking a tie between conservative and liberal Supreme Court Justices. Kavanaugh was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice by the US Congress, despite allegations against him of attempted gang rape, attempted rape, and sexual assault in his university years.

“It’s a really dire situation” said Ashley Theissen, a pro-choice protester, as she attended a sit-in last Friday with 20 other young activists at the Riffe Center, where the Governer’s office is, to protest DeWine’s pledge to support SB23 on International Women’s Day. Theissen is a member of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) in Cincinnati, and of the newly formed Cincinnati Social Feminist Coalition (CSFC).

“In the fall,” Theissen said, “when the Kavanaugh hearings were going on it was such a devastating moment for so many women around the country. So in the ISO, we decided we had to do something so we reached out to the Democratic Socialists of America, and the Socialist Alternative and we planned 2 protests together. As a group of socialist feminists, we realized there was a need to not just wait for elections.”

Their list of demands for the International Woman’s Day Sit-In last Friday said:

“-No heartbeat bill

-No criminalizing abortions

-Abortion and birth control on demand

-Fully comprehensive Medicare for all

-Parental leave and free childcare for all families

-End the gender pay gap and end sexual harassment in the workplace

-Fully fund affordable housing, education, and the green new deal by taxing the wealthiest 1%

-An independent mass socialist working class party that fights for the rights of all women oppressed minorities, the poor, and the working class.”


The ISO and CSFC aims to effect the legislative process, Theissen said, but while “other organizations have done a strategy of working with the Democrats hoping they will protect this right to abortion, we have seen the Democrats have done too little or have used it as a bargaining chip…I’m not blaming this on individual democrats, this is a structural issue.”

Jane Doe, raised in Delaware County, who identified as an incest survivor that opposes SB23, asked to be called Jane Doe to protect her and her family’s privacy. With tears in her eye’s she gave me an 8.5-times-11-inch paper with her story on it and explained she wanted her story to be considered in the conversation around SB23. She said she had really wanted to make it to see the Senate vote, she was running late getting off work and was streaming the vote live on her phone on the way over and heard the announcement that the bill had passed. She said, “Everyone burst into applause and I was just sobbing in the middle of the street.”

Doe, who was raped several times by her brother, said she wanted everyone to know that incest is a lot more common than people realize, but it doesn’t get talked about because it’s so traumatic. With incest way more common than people realize, she worries about the trauma SB23 would cause victims like her. Had she become pregnant from her brother, “I would’ve killed myself,” she said. Then she considered that she was only 11-years-old when the abuse started, “I couldn’t talk to my parents about it, so I probably would have looked online [for self-administered abortion options] but if that failed, I would have killed myself.” She explained, that’s because her parents were not supportive when she told them what her brother had done to her. He later got 4 months in prison, and 5 years on probation, and is required to register as a sex offender, because of the testimony she gave to police, she said.

Theissen, a socialist feminist, said, “One thing a lot of people don’t realize is…Four justices in Roe V Wade were appointed by Nixon, and 3 of those voted for Roe V Wade, and the reason was that there was such a massive movement of activity on these issues so that they had to affirm this right. The court used this kind of language: Reproductive slavery. It’s breathtaking.”

Note: In the photos below there is one of two men standing against a wall talking. The two men directing the Columbus Police and State Highway Patrol to remove the protesters refused to be interviewed. The man on the left turned his ID badge upside down to obscure his identity when the Columbus Free Press asked for his identity and title. 

Pro-choice protesters refuse to leave the Riffe Center when asked.