CINCINNATI — The city of Cincinnati plans to change medical coverage for its employees to ensure they have access to abortions and other reproductive health care, even though the state of Ohio prohibits them.
What do you need to know
- In response to the annulment of Roe v. Wade, the city of Cincinnati has committed to reimburse officials for travel costs related to needing to leave the state for an abortion.
- The City Council also plans to change a long-standing policy that did not allow the city to cover elective abortions as part of its employee health plan.
- Ohio’s attorney general said the state’s long-contested “Heartbeat Act” took effect; the law prohibits abortions as soon as there is a fetal heartbeat
- The Cincinnati administration will also explore ways to decriminalize abortion in Cincinnati
Mayor Aftab Pureval joined other city leaders on the steps of City Hall Monday morning to announce new legislation to repeal a 2001 ordinance that restricts the city’s ability to cover elective abortions under its health plan.
The City Council will vote on Wednesday. Assuming it passes, and it likely will overwhelmingly, the city’s interim manager, John Curp, will change the city’s health insurance plan to include abortion-related health services, Pureval said.
Eight of the nine City Council members attended the press conference alongside Kersha Deibel, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio.
Liz Keating, the only Republican on the board, was not present.
“Cincinnati and its local government deeply, unabashedly and unequivocally support women’s right to choose – and we will do everything in our power to preserve that right,” Pureval said.
The move follows the United States Supreme Court on Friday overturning Roe v. Wade, ending nearly 50 years of the federally protected right to have an abortion. The decision now leaves the legality of abortions to individual states.
On the same day as the Supreme Court decision, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost asked a federal judge to suspend an injunction against the state’s so-called “Heartbeat Act,” which makes abortion illegal upon detection of a heartbeat. of the fetus. This usually develops between five or six weeks after conception, sometimes before a person realizes they are pregnant.
The law was passed in 2019 but never went into effect due to legal challenges related to Roe. That changed Friday night, when a federal court suspended an injunction against the law, Yost wrote in a tweet.
Abortions are still legal in Ohio, but are now much more restricted. Like other abortion providers, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio is evaluating its next legal steps, according to a spokesperson for the organization.
Meeka Owens, one of the board members present on Monday, called the situation personal.
“It’s about choice, it’s about autonomy, it’s about self-determining your own life choices,” she said. “I have known people who have had abortions. I personally had to make that choice in my life too, and so I know what the power to choose means. We will continue to fight to ensure that we are protecting lives.”
As part of its plan, the government of Cincinnati will institute a travel reimbursement policy to help employees cover costs associated with traveling to receive health care services not available within a 150-mile radius and not covered by the city’s health plan. .
The move is similar to policies recently enacted by corporations and companies, including Cincinnati-based Kroger Co..
City policy won’t just cover abortion-related services, Pureval said. He added that the goal is to ensure that employees have access to any qualified medical care that is not available here, regardless of future state laws.
“Cincinnati residents will not have easy access to the medical support they need, putting lives at risk – and this will disproportionately harm black and brown women, as well as those without the resources to travel long distances for care,” Pureval said.
The first-term mayor mentioned that these measures are not just about doing the right thing for employees, but will help Cincinnati continue to grow.
“History will judge those who participated in this. And as we work to grow our city… companies will be watching and making decisions based on what states respect women,” she added.
The city administration will also provide a report within 30 days exploring the opportunity to decriminalize abortion in Cincinnati.
“I have asked the government to prioritize police sources to protect the health and safety of women and healthcare workers,” Pureval said. “It is not a good use of law enforcement resources to investigate and prosecute doctors and women who are involved in personal healthcare decisions.”
On Friday, Governor Mike DeWine said his administration is investing more than $1 billion to provide antenatal care, parenting classes, counseling, education and nutritional assistance to expectant mothers and their families. he calls it the “Bold Beginning” initiative.
Wine asked state health and human services agencies develop a plan to identify and help vulnerable mothers. He also plans to work with state lawmakers and local communities to improve prenatal and postnatal care, increase screening for maternal depression and expand other mental health resources for pregnant women.
Raising awareness of adoption will also be a key focus area, said DeWine. Another will be to improve Ohio’s infant and maternal mortality rates, especially among African American mothers and babies.
In 2019, the black infant mortality rate (14.3 deaths per 1,000 live births) was nearly three times higher than the white infant mortality rate (5.1), according to data from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio. Over the past decade, Ohio’s black-white infant mortality gap has increased by 26%, from 2.2 in 2009 to 2.8 in 2019.
“I believe that all Ohioans want this state to be the most family-friendly, child-friendly state in the country, and we are making great progress in creating an environment here in Ohio where families and children can thrive and live fully. potential,” DeWine said. “But there is so much more to be done – so much work left.” But that’s not enough, Pureval said. He said the Supreme Court, Congress and the Ohio legislature “failed us.”
“It’s not my job to make it easy for the state legislature and governor to drag women back to the 1950s and take away their rights,” Pureval said. “It’s my job to make it harder. And with today’s announcements, we are reacting.”