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Government and Politics

Reproductive rights fight brewing in Ohio
Protest at Ohio Democratic Party headquarters
This story is part of a special series.

Jo Ingles
In The Region:
There’s a fight brewing over women’s rights and contraceptives -- nationally and here in Ohio. Statehouse correspondent Jo Ingles reports.
Reproductive rights fight brewing in Ohio

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About three dozen women gathered at the Ohio Democratic Party headquarters to send a strong message to Republicans who they say want to take away the rights of women to control their own destinies.  Democratic State Representative Nancy Garland is fired up.

Garland – I don’t know when I have been more fired up about an issue.  I’ve got to say to you….can you believe it?  Can you believe that we had somebody yesterday say that we should go to the way they did in the old days with an aspirin between your legs?  Can you believe they said that?  Can you believe they had a hearing in congress yesterday and not one woman was on the panel?  Can you believe that?  Again, I don’t know when I’ve been quite as fired up as I am today.

Garland and other women say Republicans are trying to take away access to popular forms of birth control at the federal and state levels.  State Senator Charleta Tavares says women have fought for these rights for decades and not up for negotiation. 

Tavares – We are no longer chattle.  We no longer belong to condescending, patronizing men who want to tell us what is right for us.  They don’t live in our bodies.  They don’t know what we go through.  It should be left up to a woman and her health care professional and her higher being whether or not she gets pregnant, whether or not she uses contraceptives and what the best health measures are for her.

Columbus business owner Liz Lessner says many employees are dependent on the health plans provided by their employers.  She says Prseident Obama is right to guarantee all women have access to these services, regardless of who employs them.  Lessner calls the people who are trying to remove the requirement that birth control be available to every woman, the “masters of the uterus.”

Lessner- I would sure love to overthrow the masters of the uterus and take control of my body once more.

At the center of the firestorm of the fight over birth control is former Pennsylvania Senator and Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum.  After accepting an endorsement from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Santorum explains he gets attacked by fellow GOP presidential candidates over the issue.

Santorum – It’s sort of funny that I’ve been attacked by Romney and Paul for voting for title 10 funding which is funding for birth control to go to clinics which I’ve voted for in appropriation bills.  For the record, I’ve voted for title 20 funding which is something I worked on in the house which actually provides funding for abstinence funding which I think is a healthier thing for young teens.

Santorum says he doesn’t believe in using some birth control because of his religious beliefs.  But he says it’s unfair to believe that he would impose his will on all women.

Santorum – To think that somehow that because I personally believe this that I would be the uber-czar that would try to impose that on the rest of the country is absurd and it is absurd on its face and based on my record in the congress.

An anti-abortion group has endorsed Santorum for President.  The Susan B Anthony List, named after the famous suffrage leader, has not made a presidential primary endorsement in the past but says it is doing so this time because Santorum has a record of consistent leadership when it comes to the abortion issue.
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