On the front steps of the Ohio Statehouse yesterday, around 150 feminists, community activists and reproductive rights advocates mounted a pro-choice protest organized by local chapters of the National Council of Jewish Women and Planned Parenthood.
Chanting “Don’t step on our rights,” the group laid out more than 1000 pairs of heels, flats, boots, sneakers and even ice skates on the Statehouse steps. Collected from Ohioans over the course of several months, the shoes represented a moving visual of the “women from across the state committed to protecting access to health care, including abortion.”
Roberta Herman, the vice president of advocacy for NCJW, says,
We really stand for women, children and families and believe very strongly there should be no bans on abortion coverage. Women should receive fair treatment on accessing abortion regardless of their income level or insurance type.
Pro-choice groups are up against a lot in Ohio. Its legislature is one of the worst for reproductive rights —alongside states like Texas and North Dakota—and its lawmakers are currently considering three bills that stand to drastically curtail abortion rights in the state.
H.B. 69 would prohibit abortions after a “fetal heartbeat” can be detected, effectively banning abortions at six weeks, before some women even realize they’re pregnant. H.B. 135 would stop women who seek an abortion because of a prenatal Down Syndrome diagnosis, and companion bills H.B. 117 and S.B. 127 would make performing abortions after 20 weeks a felony.
The Columbus protest comes on the heels of Ohio State Rep. Teresa Fedor speaking out about her rape and subsequent abortion on the state’s House floor in March when an anti-abortion bill was being debated. She said:
I dare you to walk in my shoes … What you’re doing is so fundamentally inhuman, unconstitutional, and I’ve sat here too long.
After the protest concluded, the shoes were donated to multiple women’s shelters throughout Columbus.
Photos courtesy of Lisa Crawford.