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Activists Draw On Famous Book To Protest Abortion Bill At Statehouse

Ohio Public Radio

Abortion rights activists staged a demonstration at the Statehouse Tuesday as a Republican-backed bill banning an abortion procedure was introduced in committee. More than a dozen women dressed as characters from a well-known novel showed up as the Senate judiciary committee considered the legislation. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports.

They wore long scarlet robes and large white hoods that dwarfed their faces. Some were pregnant themselves. And the women sat without speaking in the front row of a Statehouse hearing room as two Republican state senators introduced the bill to ban the dilation and extraction procedure commonly used in abortions past 12 weeks of pregnancy. Jaime Miracle of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio says the women were dressed like those in the popular book and television series “The Handmaid’s Tale”, in which a militarized government strips women of their rights and freedom and requires some to become surrogates against their will.


“Just like in the Handmaids Tale where women are forced to give birth without their consent, Ohio is rapidly becoming more and more where we create different classes of women ……women who have access to the abortion care they need and have choices….and women of color and low income women who just don’t have that same access.”


Katie Franklin with Ohio Right to Life, which backs the bill, criticizes the silent demonstration.


“It’s a really important conversation that needs to be had here in Ohio and across the country and unfortunately, today’s demonstration is a total distraction of that. It’s a total mockery of that.”


Franklin, who is 28 weeks pregnant herself, says it’s difficult for think about the abortion procedure that she describes as “dismemberment.”


“I think the important take away is that dismemberment abortions are happening nearly three thousand times every year in Ohio.”


None of the women who were dressed as handsmaids spoke at the hearing because it was sponsor testimony only. But NARAL’s Miracle says she thinks their mere presence made an impact.


“Sometimes the most powerful protest is the silent protest.”


The “Handmaid’s Tale” protest has also been used by abortion rights groups in Texas and Missouri in the past.

The Statehouse News Bureau was founded in 1980 to provide educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations. To this day, the Bureau remains the only broadcast outlet dedicated to in-depth coverage of state government news and topics of statewide interest. The Bureau is funded througheTech Ohio, and is managed by ideastream. The reporters at the Bureau follow the concerns of the citizens and voters of Ohio, as well as the actions of the Governor, the Ohio General Assembly, the Ohio Supreme Court, and other elected officials. We strive to cover statehouse news, government issues, Ohio politics, and concerns of business, culture and the arts with balance and fairness, and work to present diverse voices and points of view from the Statehouse and throughout Ohio. The three award-winning journalists at the bureau have more than 60 combined years of radio and television experience. They can be heard on National Public Radio and are regular contributors to Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace. Every weekday, the Statehouse News Bureau produces in-depth news reports forOhio's public radio stations. Those stories are also available on this website, either on the front page or in our archives. Weekly, the Statehouse News Bureau produces a television show from our studios in the Statehouse. The State of Ohio is an unique blend of news, interviews, talk and analysis, and is broadcast on Ohio's public television stations. The Statehouse News Bureau also produces special programming throughout the year, including the Governor's annual State of the State address to the Ohio General Assembly and a five-part year-end review.
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