Ohio Republicans moved forward this week with a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. During hearings for Sub. H.B. 294, Republican House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger prevented some Democrats from speaking against the bill, including State Representative Kathleen Clyde. In response, she entered her protest letter and unheard speech into the House Journal. We’ve reprinted it all below:

Pursuant to Article II, Section 10 of the Constitution of the State of Ohio which states, “Any member of either house shall have the right to protest against any act, or resolution thereof; and such protest, and the reasons therefor, shall, without alteration, commitment, or delay, be entered upon the journal,” I file the following protest to be entered upon the journal.

I, State Representative Kathleen Clyde, of House District 75, protest the Ohio House’s decision to end debate and vote to pass Sub. H.B. 294 while my Democratic colleagues and I were standing and asking to be recognized to speak on the bill.

Because I was not recognized on the floor of the House to speak out against Sub. H.B. 294, I include here with this protest the speech I had planned to deliver.

This is a rare occasion today. The Ohio House is about to pass a bill that will increase the number of abortions in Ohio. That’s right. By cutting access to birth control, sex education and other vital services that are all part of women’s healthcare, this bill will increase unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

We are not even pretending anymore that the tidal wave of abortion restrictions are just about abortion. This bill and its many companions are about shaming, judging and controlling women. This bill attacks:

  • women’s choice to use birth control,
  • women’s and men’s sex education,
  • women’s safety,
  • women’s and men’s protection from STIs,
  • even women’s healthy pregnancies,
  • and all the pieces that are essential to women’s healthcare.

This bill is nonsensically trying to fence off abortion even further from all the other pieces of women’s healthcare and if that means those other healthcare services have to disappear, so be it. That’s what is really going on here. This bill will hurt women, girls, and the men who also choose Planned Parenthood.

The bill imposes a gag rule on any organization, not just Planned Parenthood, that provides rape and dating violence education, cancer care, infertility prevention, HIV/AIDS services, and infant mortality prevention IF that organization even mentions abortion as an option to women. With no exception for the life and health of the girl or woman.

Who is going to take over the programming that is offered by the experts at Planned Parenthood and other women’s clinics? Is it going to be all abstinence-only-until-marriage across the state? People that tell girls and women they are asking for it if they experience dating violence? Is that who we will entrust our education to now?  This bill uses Planned Parenthood as a stand-in punching bag for Ohio’s women. By defunding Planned Parenthood, you are showing women where they are on your priority list – the very bottom.

The demonizing of Planned Parenthood has led to vandalism and violence at clinics, broken doors, smashed offices and equipment, arson in some states. That means that women and men seeking birth control, well visits, STI treatment are having to go to clinics with ramped-up security and bulletproof glass.

I have frequently said there is a war on women in Ohio and in the country. At times it has felt that way. But we’ve crossed the line from war into something worse. Abuse of women. Violence against women. One of the many witnesses who spoke out against this bill said she discusses power-based forms of violence with her students. These are forms of violence that occur when someone in a position of authority uses their power or status to coerce, assault, or violate a person’s autonomy. She said “It seems to me, that these bills are, in fact, flying against the values of the Violence Against Women Act, because people (mostly men) in positions of authority are using their power to coerce women into unhealthy situations, close women’s health clinics, and silence women’s voices about sexual health options.”

This isn’t war. We had Veterans Day last week and I felt proud of the brave men and women who served our country in war, served with honor. There is no bravery and there is no honor in what we are doing to Ohio’s women with this bill. There is no bravery or honor in shaming women, judging women, taking away healthcare from women. There is no bravery or honor in what we are doing here today.

I stand with Planned Parenthood and urge a no vote on House Bill 294.

I would have preferred to deliver this speech to my colleagues on the floor of the House and I reiterate my protest against the decision to cut off debate on Sub. H.B. 294 by elected members of the Ohio General Assembly.


State Representative Kathleen Clyde