On March 8 the Cincinnati Socialist Feminists coalition and allies from Columbus decided to send Ohio Governor Mike DeWine a message for International Women’s Day. A dozen women and men attempted to access DeWine’s upper-floor office at the Columbus Riffe Center.

After being turned away, they went to the ground floor lobby and held a sit-in. “Our bodies, our choice!” they chanted. “Governor DeWine, abortion’s not a crime!”

The protesters were targeting Ohio Senate Bill 23, the so-called “heartbeat bill” which would ban abortions six weeks after conception. DeWine has pledged to sign the bill if it’s passed by the Ohio legislature.

When the lobby closed at 5 PM, State Highway Patrol officers ordered the demonstrators to leave. Depending on their level of resistance, they were escorted, dragged, or carried out of the building. There were no arrests. Outside, the protesters were joined by about 40 supporters and held a rally on the sidewalk.

“In Kentucky a very similar bill is poised to become law very shortly,” said Ashley Theissen, a member of the International Socialist Organization. “Ohio SB 23 is still in committee. We have a lot of time to build a movement to stop it in its tracks.”

Theissen doesn’t believe the abortion fight can be won at the ballot box. “For many years now, the mainstream feminist groups have decided to take a tactic of electoral politics: donating to Democrats and hoping that things work out all right,” she said. “We know by the state of Kentucky, and now Ohio, that this has not been an effective strategy.”

Socialist feminists in Cincinnati want to build a coalition across Ohio to fight back against SB 23, Theissen said. “The only way that we can protect abortion access is to build a mass movement. It’s not going to be settled by getting a few more people in office who might be a little more sympathetic to our rights. When we Roe v. Wade was won, Nixon was sitting in the White House, and four Nixon appointees were sitting on the Supreme Court. Three of the four went with the majority decision. They voted for Roe v. Wade. The reason why is that a massive movement from below had forced their hand. They had no choice but to make abortion legal.”

“Fuck the courts and legislature. Women are not incubators!” the crowd chanted.

“The clear intention of the Ohio legislature is to pass a law that forces a Supreme Court case with the potential of overthrowing Roe v. Wade,” said Socialist Alternative member Amanda Ponomarenko.  The 1973 ruling “has been the target of the religious right in this country for decades. They’ve been organizing with Republicans for years to pass laws restricting access to abortion. They’re emboldened by Trump’s presidency, and celebrating his two Supreme Court appointments, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who pose a real threat to Roe v. Wade and women’s reproductive health.”

Ponomarenko linked reproductive rights to a broader social transformation. “We need to continue to bring #MeToo into the workplace in the struggle against harassment, to demand the right to reproductive health care — including abortion — and universal child care. We need an end to for-profit health care and a Medicare for all system. We can fight for a federal $15 an hour minimum wage, and affordable housing — the bare minimum necessities for working class families,” she said.

“For this change to last, we’ll need to transform these struggles for reform into a fight for a radical shift in society — to a society based on human need and not on profit.”