A political party's convention is like a glimpse into a future in which they are in power, their most enthusiastic supporters are roaming the streets to tell you how excited they are about it, and the police state is out in full force to protect them. This week in Cleveland has been a carnival of sexism, evangelism, free market fetishism, and Islamophobia. In other words: a preview of a Donald Trump presidency.
But for women here in Cleveland—and across Ohio—this isn't their first window into the effects of right-wing politics. In the last six years, this state has enacted 18 laws restricting women's access to abortion and healthcare, according to Planned Parenthood, which calls the laws "some of the most extreme anti-women’s health policies around."
"Cleveland is a wonderful city and Ohio has plenty of amazing people here," says Dawn Laguens, head of Planned Parenthood Votes, "but [the state has] terrible, terrible laws that show really a preview of what America would look like if Trump and [Mike] Pence and the Republican Party leadership get their way."
While Trump has waffled on social issues, Pence, his vice presidential pick, once signed a law requiring doctors performing abortions to offer women the chance to hear the fetal heartbeat and essentially requiring women to perform funeral services for fetuses.
"I’m a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order," Pence said during in his speech at the RNC last night.
Here in Ohio, these are some of the restrictions passed since 2010, the year governor and former presidential candidate John Kasich was elected:
• Rape counselors are banned from getting money from a state rape crisis fund if they refer survivors to abortion clinics, according to Planned Parenthood.
• The state requires women to receive counseling and ultrasounds before getting abortions. Parental notification is required for minors.
• Affordable Care Act health plans and public employees' health insurance cover abortion only in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment.
• Abortion clinics are subject to what Planned Parenthood describes as "Texas-style abortion restrictions," including one rule that they must have agreements with local hospitals in case of emergency. The problem: Public hospitals are barred from entering those agreements .
Legislation in Ohio has also stripped funding from Planned Parenthood to the tune of $1.4 million and cut money for outreach programs targeted at poor pregnant women and new moms. (Ohio ranks 45th in infant mortality rates.)
Ohio State Representative Kathleen Clyde, a Democrat, tells The Stranger she's tried to introduce legislation to repeal abortion restrictions, but has been stonewalled by a far-right legislative majority that swept the capitol in 2010.
The national Republican Party, meanwhile, adopted a hard-right platform this week that calls for defunding Planned Parenthood and passing "legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children."
"A Trump/Pence administration would put women's healthcare and access to safe, legal abortions at risk," Clyde says. "Having this right here in my backyard is a stark reminder for me of what's at stake in this important presidential election."
Planned Parenthood's Laguens landed in Cleveland this week to try to lobby moderate Republicans on women's health issues. Blaming gerrymandering, Laguens says "a small group of people with very extreme views has been positioned as the gatekeepers of that party." So, she's been hitting events, talking to delegates, and giving media interviews.
"I know there are lurking moderate Republicans—we meet them all the time; they come to our health centers for care—who would like to see a different Republican Party," she says.