As battle over reproductive rights amendment heats up, key Ohio pro-choice group gets new leader
As pro-choice groups gather signatures for a possible constitutional amendment on reproductive rights in November, there’s a new leader at one of the state’s largest abortion rights organizations.
Erica Wilson-Domer is the new president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, taking over the position on July 1. She comes into the job during a fierce fight over an amendment guaranteeing reproductive rights and abortion access. Big money will likely be spent on both sides – an anti-abortion group has already launched a $5 million ad campaign before the issue has even made the ballot.
“I feel really confident that we can break through the noise and the misinformation of which there is a lot and help people understand really what it is that we're asking for, which is just the right to choose what to do with your own body," Wilson-Domer said.
There's already been conflicting information in that $5 million ad campaign, which suggests that the amendment would take away parental rights involving minors getting abortions and even gender transition treatment. Opponents of the amendment say the language is so vague that it could be read that way. But supporters say the ad is an outright lie, and that the ad shows those who oppose the issue are desperate to confuse Ohioans.
Of the ads, Wilsom-Domer said: "Laws are written for adults and our goal is to provide access for people who need these services. I think it's not right for the government to interfere with my choices as an adult person regarding abortion, transgender care, gender affirming care. It's not their business. And I think it's that's what we have to fight for."
Groups working to put that amendment before voters in November have until July 5 to gather nearly 414,000 signatures. Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers are working on putting an amendment before voters in an August special election which would require 60% voter approval for future amendments - with this reproductive rights issue the target. Republicans in the Senate passed the bill to create the August special election and the 60% voter approval resolution, but neither has passed the House. Both must pass by May 10 for that August vote to happen.
Beyond that, Wilson-Domer said she also hopes to "focus on health, equity and expanding access to our patients to all Ohioans, particularly for our medically underserved and marginalized communities." That means expanding access to cancer screenings, contraceptives and STI treatment and other services provided by 15 Planned Parenthood clinics around Ohio, though state funding to Planned Parenthood was cut years ago.
And she said while the fight over abortion rights can get better, she's hoping that there can be common ground between pro-choice and pro-life groups.
"I like to hope that we are all here with the same goal of helping people live their best, most healthy life," Wilson-Domer said. "We may have different ideas about how we do that. but I I like to hope that at the heart of it we all want to be kind people."