5 min read

The State of Rights

The State of Rights

It's been a minute since we've caught up on the how the fight to maintain basic rights for folks is going. Unfortunately, as I am bringing it up, that must mean some shit is happening. I don't even have to leave my home state to write this post, as plenty of awful shit has occurred just in Ohio over the last few months.

I'm talking, primarily, about the high-vis/high-risk rights. Abortion and reproductive rights are, despite a recent election in Ohio, still a battleground in the Buckeye state. Perhaps even worse off is the state of Trans issues, as Governor Mike DeWine has recently lost a game of tug of war with the state legislature over who, exactly, gets to dump Trans healthcare into a pit.

Reproductive Rights in Ohio

In August, as a tangent, Ohio held a referendum to make it more difficult to amend the Ohio constitution by voter initiative. This referendum was openly put forth in order to torpedo voter-led referendums on abortion, among others–and by openly I mean Frank LaRose, the Secretary of State, said this was an attempt to stop "far-left" initiatives. Well, Frank got his ass whupped in August, and then in November Ohio voted to enshrine reproductive rights in the constitution (and to legalize marijuana, just saying). Eat shit, Frank.

Despite these legislative victories, we are not out of the woods, not nearly. I will warn you: the details of this case, if you want to use a term so antiseptic, are undoubtedly triggering.

Last September, a Black woman's water broke in Trumbull County, Ohio. She went to the hospital, where she was told she should be induced before fetal viability in order to avoid a potentially life-threatening infection. The woman signed herself out of the hospital in order to process this information, returning the next day only to leave against medical advice once again. At home, she delivered a fetus that was determined to have died before birth due to a spontaneous miscarriage. She delivered this fetus while on the toilet, telling authorities when she was taken back to the hospital after suffering a hemorrhage that she thought she had removed the remains. The fetus itself was found inside the toilet by the coroner's office, at which point the toilet was removed from the home "for further investigation." The woman was arrested two weeks later for abuse of a corpse, which is a felony.

The story doesn't end here, thankfully*, but let's pause. A woman undergoes a traumatic event, both physically and mentally, and the response of authorities is to take custody of her fucking toilet, then arrest her. And as you've noticed by now, this arrest had nothing to do with abortion–this woman had a completely natural bodily reaction that resulted in the end of what, from what I've read, was a wanted pregnancy. Now, this happened before abortion protection was enshrined in the Ohio constitution, but again, that doesn't fucking matter because this wasn't an abortion. It's pure governmental overreach intended to criminalize the bodily functions of women. It should come as no surprise that one of the first examples of this criminalization was a Black woman.

We've already seen that the Ohio State Legislature will do whatever it can to try to curb the rights of its citizens before this latest election. We've seen them do the same after, too–attempting to pick away at the marijuana legislation and to remove the courts' jurisdiction over abortion as a way around the amendment. This will continue in the Statehouse and on the ground as the far right continues to gain sway in state governments across the country.

*Charges have since been dropped.

Trans Rights in Ohio

This subject is, unfortunately, no brighter. Ohio's Trans community has gone through a little bit of a rollercoaster in the last two months. The Ohio House sent a bill to Governor Mike DeWine that would ban all gender-affirming healthcare for minors, which DeWine somewhat shockingly vetoed. There was just enough time after the veto of this bill to celebrate before DeWine turned around and signed an executive order that prohibited gender-affirming surgeries for minors.

If that was not enough to give you whiplash, the House recently overrode DeWine's veto, which does not eliminate DeWine's EO. Now both may stand and further complicate and endanger lives. The executive order includes limitations on adults seeking treatment, very much in line with similar rules in other conservative states. Before gender-affirming care can move forward, the patient must have their treatment signed off on by an endocrinologist, a psychiatrist, and whatever the fuck a bio-ethicist is.

DeWine's stated intention is to provide more care for Trans people, but having this kind of unfounded rigor placed between patients and their care–which has been proven effective–is going to do the opposite and DeWine is smart enough to know this. I don't generally find DeWine to be a right-wing megalomaniac but he is following in the footsteps of those types with this order.

It won't shock you that anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation is coming at a frenetic pace ahead of the 2024 election. Ohio is only one part of this trend. More than 275 bills have been slated for review in state legislatures just for 2024, so far. 2023 saw 500 for the whole year (which is itself stunning and awful). These bills are mostly in the realm of years-ago-Florida, which is to say they are focused on schools, sports, and supposedly limiting the exposure of children to LGBTQIA+ culture. That's not to minimize this legislation–it's to say that we should be able to see that this is only the beginning. The floridazation of the country is underway.

Project 2025

I want to zoom out, before we close up shop today, and talk about Project 2025–a plan hatched by conservative thinktanks and talking heads to turn the next Republican president into God Emperor. Among the items on the Project 2025 docket are a registry of all abortions, the de-legalization of abortion medication like mifepristone, and the repeal of virtually all (non-religious) anti-discrimination legislation.

Project 2025 is the "legitimate" method by which Trump becomes dictator, without ever having to break or bend our laws. The case is simply made by the project that a president has absolute power over the executive branch, and Trump's stacked courts will nod their heads (the project also calls for the replacement of hundreds of federal officials with Trump factotums). The project also suggests the immediate dismantling of the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. I would cheer this, but for two things: it also immediately calls for the invocation of the Insurrection Act, which would allow for the use of the military for domestic law enforcement; and Trump would almost certainly raise a secondary police or militia force from among his many goons–or simply encourage the extant brutality in our local and state police departments.

None of this, obviously, is good news, and the ascension of the Right in 2024 seems all but assured. It's worth noting, before you look to the Dems, that Biden & Friends have done virtually nothing to stop these movements and are doing their own bullshit besides. There is no ignoring the funding and supply of the genocide of Palestinians at the hands of Israel. To say that endorsing the democrats at this point is harm mitigation is a joke–for whom is harm mitigated in this scenario? Not those of immigrants, nor Palestinians, nor Yemenis. For years Democrats have held abortion rights and equality ransom for your vote, only for them to do nothing. It is demonstrable that we are the ones saving ourselves, as even in traditionally more conservative states like Kansas and Ohio, voters have taken matters into their own hands. There is no rescue coming from our government. We are going to have to protect ourselves.