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Tag: Abortion

Letter to the Editor: Do Republicans Really Believe in Freedom and Liberty?

letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor of the Defiance Crescent-News.

Dear Editor,

If rural Ohio Republicans were surveyed and asked if they believed in freedom and liberty for everyone, to the person they would say YES! However, words are cheap, and when we take a close look at Republican behavior and practices, we learn that they only believe in freedom and liberty for some people.

Most rural Ohioans voted for and currently support Donald Trump. They overwhelmingly voted for the disgraced ex-president in 2016 and 2020, and plan to do so again in 2024. Does Trump believe in freedom and liberty for everyone? Of course not. He routinely threatens people like me, calls for my arrest, and says that I should expelled from the country of my birth. Why? I have political and religious beliefs different from Trump and his MAGA followers. Evidently, freedom and liberty only apply to people who agree with Trump and the rhetoric of white Evangelical Christians. Everyone else is an enemy of God and state.

When local Republicans talk glowingly about their commitment to freedom and liberty, I don’t believe them. These same people are working diligently to undo the express will of the people as they try to neuter recently passed initiatives that legalize abortion and recreational cannabis. If Republicans truly believe in freedom and liberty, then they would accept the will of the people. Instead, both at state and local levels, Republicans are intent on forcing their moral beliefs on others.

Republicans want public school students to have freedom to attend release time programs such as Lifewise Academy — an Evangelical organization — yet when The Satanic Temple wants to sponsor a release time program, all of a sudden freedom only applies to Evangelical Christians. Everywhere we look, we see right-wing Republicans prosecuting the latest iteration of the culture war. For all their talk about freedom and liberty, Republicans deny that same right for everyone. Not for LGBTQ people, nor socialists, atheists, or humanists. Not for women seeking abortion care, nor people with moral beliefs different from the Christian majority.

I am in the minority when it comes to my political and religious beliefs. Even local Democrats distance themselves from me because I am a Democratic socialist, too liberal, or a godless heathen. That’s the price I pay for living in rural Ohio. That said, I demand and expect the same freedom and liberty as my Republican neighbors.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Bruce, Why Are You a “Baby Killer”?

abortion

Tomorrow, Ohioans will vote on Issue 1 — the enshrinement of reproductive rights in the Ohio Constitution. The amendment will likely pass. If it doesn’t, Ohio will be governed by a six-week abortion ban, with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the mother.

A local Evangelical pastor has been seeking out people who have VOTE YES signs in their yards, asking them why they are baby killers. In his Bible-sotted mind, if you support a woman’s right to choose, you are a baby killer; a murderer. I do not doubt that he believes that abortion should be criminalized and anyone who facilitates, participates in, or has an abortion should be criminally prosecuted and incarcerated.

I have no hope of meaningfully interacting with people who think I am a “murderer” because I think women should have a right to control their bodies; that abortion is an essential part of reproductive care.

So, does this mean I am a murderer; a baby killer? Of course not. Eight out of ten abortions take place in the first trimester, long before the zygote, tissue, or fetus is a “baby.” To be sure, the fetus is “potential life,” but not a baby (in the normative sense of the word). Once a fetus reaches viability — 22 to 24 weeks, roughly six months — then a case can be made for regulations to ensure that only fetuses that have fatal birth defects or are threats to the health and life of the mother are aborted (which account for roughly 12,000 abortions per year).

All of us have a right to bodily autonomy — including pregnant women. I will vote YES tomorrow because I want women, including my two daughters, daughters-in-law, and thirteen granddaughters, to have the absolute right to control their own bodies. Appeals to God, the Bible, or other dogma carry no weight with me. I don’t care what the Bible says, the church says, or some preacher says about the matter. My only concern is for women themselves.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and His Wife, Fran, Lie About the Implications of Issue 1

liar liar pants on fire

By Marilou Johanek, Ohio Capital Journal, Used with Permission

They’re lying. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and his wife Fran cut a homey anti-Issue 1 ad with warm lighting and soft music that features the couple as honest-to-goodness people with heartfelt concerns about the abortion rights amendment on the ballot Nov. 7. Then the lovely pair proceed to lie through their teeth. 

“Everywhere we go, folks tell us they’re confused about Issue 1,” begins the governor. (That’s because Ohioans just voted for another Issue 1 three months ago deliberately labeled by Ohio Republicans to confuse voters in an attempt to undermine the original Issue 1 on Nov. 7.) DeWine skips that inconvenient truth and presses on.

“So, Fran and I have carefully studied it.” (Trust the anti-choice extremist who vowed “to go as far as we can” to prohibit reproductive rights in Ohio for fair assessment.) Fran’s takeaway of the constitutional amendment — that essentially restores the pre-Dobbs protections Ohio women enjoyed before June 24, 2022 — is heavy on fear-mongering and fabrication. 

“Issue 1 would allow an abortion at any time during pregnancy,” she intones, knowing full well the proposed amendment allows for the same reasonable abortion restrictions after fetal viability that now exist with exception for incredibly rare cases that threaten the life or health of the pregnant patient. She leans into the “late-term” anti-abortion fallacy to suggest that Issue 1 could lead to full-term infanticide in the state. 

“Simply lies created to push a false narrative,” countered Ohio House Rep. Anita Somani, a practicing OB-GYN for 31 years. This is her take:

“Late-term abortions is actually not a term used in medicine. However, the gestational ages they are referring to make up less than 1% of abortions, and all of those are before 22 weeks. In fact, you won’t find data showing abortions after this age because those are deliveries and are recorded as such with birth or death certificates. If there is a birth defect that is incompatible with life or a maternal condition that is life-threatening, labor is induced and the child is then given comfort care. If the child is viable (i.e., after 24 weeks) neonatal care is provided.”

Back to the governor’s missus. And more deception. “It [Issue 1] would deny parents the right to be involved in their daughters making the most important decision of her life.” No, it wouldn’t, Fran. Nothing in the amendment, providing constitutional protections for abortion access in the state, even addresses parental rights, concluded Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. (The same phony arguments about minors were raised before Michigan’s nearly identical abortion rights amendment passed with its parental consent laws intact.)       

DeWine closes his commercial against Issue 1 with patronizing father-knows-best drivel. “I know Ohioans are divided on the issue of abortion, but whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice, Issue 1 is just not right for Ohio.” But a draconian six-week abortion ban DeWine immediately imposed on Ohio women as soon as the Supreme Court rescinded half a century of protected reproductive freedom in the country is??

Fran’s sign-off is blunt. “Issue 1 just goes too far.” But a near total ban on access to abortion, with no exceptions for rape or incest which forced a pregnant, 10-year-old rape victim to seek out-of-state emergency medical care after it was prohibited in her home state doesn’t?? The grotesque gaslighting by the DeWines is, unfortunately, not an anomaly in the concerted disinformation campaign running to deny women a constitutional right to abortion and other reproductive health care in the state. 

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, the sinister partisan who tried to subvert voters’ majority rights in the August election and who flagrantly distorted ballot language on the upcoming abortion rights amendment to defeat it, called Issue 1 a “sinister” plot of the “abortion industry” that was “shrouded in the clever mask of reproductive freedom.” 

The slippery elections chief also falsely claimed the amendment would green-light “taxpayer-funded abortion” throughout pregnancy and “long after viability when the unborn child would survive outside the womb.” Piling on the deceptive innuendos of legalized infanticide were extremists in the Ohio Senate who posited the ballot initiative will “allow the worst atrocities imaginable,” including “the dismemberment of fully conscious children,” in an adopted resolution.

The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland tied all the prevailing lies about Issue 1 together and preached “it will put women at risk, it will take away parental rights, and it will allow for late-term abortions of fully-formed babies in the womb.” Not true. None of it. Read the full text of the proposal to amend Article 1 of the Ohio Constitution for yourself.

The 211-word amendment, simply titled “The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety,” is pretty straightforward. Issue 1 asks voters to reinforce the right of every individual to make their own deeply personal and difficult decisions about their own bodies without politicians, anti-abortion lobbyists, the Catholic Church, or the governor and wife butting in.

It doesn’t change parental consent laws, doesn’t cover sex-change surgery, and doesn’t force underage girls into unwanted abortions. Those who disseminate those myths — or misleading messaging that imply a suspended abortion ban isn’t a court ruling (or defeated ballot initiative) away — are lying through their pearly whites. 

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Rejecting Ohio Issue 1 Would Bring Back a 6-Week Abortion Ban — With No Exceptions for Rape and Incest

abortion

By David DeWitt, Ohio Capital Journal, Used with Permission.

For 82 days last year, the impacts of Ohio Republicans’ six-week abortion ban threw our state’s medical community and patients into chaos, confusion, and nightmare scenarios that made international headlines.

Ohio’s abortion ban law that includes no exceptions for rape or incest was held up in court after being signed by Gov. Mike DeWine in 2019. It came crashing back following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision on June 24, 2022 to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Less than an hour after the decision, Attorney General Dave Yost filed to have a federal court lift an injunction on Ohio’s six-week ban. That night, the court granted the motion and DeWine signed an executive order permitting the Ohio Department of Health to set up rules for enforcement.

Three days later, a 10-year-old rape victim had to flee Ohio to Indiana for abortion care. The story made national news, but instead of acknowledging the devastating consequences of the extremist law Ohio Republicans had worked for decades to pass, they instead attempted to erase the 10-year-old’s story.

Yost went on Fox News to raise doubts about whether the story was true. Alex Triantafilou, who has since become the chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, went on Twitter to call the case, “A garbage lie that a simple google search confirms is debunked.” Ohio U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan tweeted, “Another lie. Anyone surprised?”

The story was not a lie: On July 12, Columbus police arrested the rapist, confirming the story. This past summer, he was sentenced to life in prison.

Ohio Republicans’ radical abortion ban remained in place from June 24, 2022 until a Hamilton County Common Pleas Court judge issued a temporary restraining order against it on Sept. 14, 2022, and a preliminary injunction against it on Oct. 7, 2022. The Republican-controlled Ohio Supreme Court is now considering whether or not to lift that injunction while the Hamilton County case proceeds.

With the injunction currently still in place, abortion is legal in Ohio up until 22 weeks. If the Republican Ohio Supreme Court majority lifts the injunction, then Ohio’s six-week ban comes roaring back once again.

That is, unless Ohio voters decide to pass Issue 1 on Nov. 7, putting protections for reproductive rights such as abortion care, miscarriage care, contraception, fertility treatment, and continuing one’s pregnancy in the state constitution. The amendment would protect access to abortion care up to the point of fetal viability, and would only be allowed after that point to protect the life of the mother.

The nightmare scenarios during the nearly 12 weeks that Ohio’s extremist abortion ban was in place did not stop with the tragic story of the 10-year-old.

At least two more minors made pregnant by sexual assault were forced to leave Ohio to avoid having their rapists’ babies, according to sworn affidavits filed by doctors.

Ohio’s own abortion statistics show that it’s disturbingly possible for children to become impregnated. In 2022, 42 girls aged 14 and younger had abortions in Ohio, according to the state department of health. In 2021, it was 57. In 2020, it was 52. Ten-year-olds who become pregnant are by definition rape victims, but again, Ohio’s six-week abortion ban law doesn’t make exceptions for rape or incest.

The traumatic consequences of the law that prevented child rape victims from receiving abortion health care stretched well beyond them. The doctors’ affidavits also described more than two dozen other instances in which the abortion law put Ohio women under extreme duress.

They included two women with cancer who couldn’t terminate their pregnancies and also couldn’t get cancer treatment while they were pregnant.

Other women had partially delivered fetuses too undeveloped to survive only to see the delivery stall. In that condition, with the fetus partly out, they had to sign paperwork — and then wait for 24 hours, or for the fetus’s heart to stop.

Women suffering other complications such as a detached umbilical cord faced similar intrusions just after they were devastated to learn they would lose a child they dearly wanted. They, too, had to wait a day or for fetal demise. In one instance, that took 14 hours, a doctor said.

Still other women — shattered to learn that the baby they’re carrying lacks vital organs necessary for survival — were told that in Ohio they had to carry that baby, possibly for months, only to see it be stillborn, or to watch it quickly die.

“Being forced to go down the path is just an unequivocal nightmare, especially if you think of someone going through an entire pregnancy against their will when they know the fetus is going to die,” said Dr. David Hackney, maternal fetal medicine specialist in the Cleveland area, and chair of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologist’s Ohio chapter.

In the affidavits, doctors described the scene as women and girls suddenly learned they couldn’t get the abortions they were planning on: Many cried inconsolably. Several threatened suicide. One woman said she’d drink bleach. A high school student who couldn’t stop vomiting was hospitalized and placed on suicide watch. One woman said she’d try to end her pregnancy by hurling herself down some stairs

Under the six-week ban, Ohio doctors faced potential felony criminal charges and risks to their medical licenses because of what they said are unclear regulations and specifications on abortion stemming from the law.

Doctors said that the six-week ban had them working against their Hippocratic oaths to do no harm.

“These are dire pregnancies,” said maternal fetal medicine doctor Tani Malhotra. The mothers “are so devastated as it is. And we are just re-traumatizing them over and over again. And it’s heartbreaking to watch them already going through the movements of accepting the loss that they’re about to have and then we come in and say ‘Sign these papers’ so we can add insult to injury.”

For doctors, when and whether the law permits abortions is not an academic exercise: If they violate it, they can be charged with felonies, be sued in civil court, and subjected to professional sanctions. Nevertheless, Yost failed to provide medical practitioners any legal guidance around the law.

The pain, suffering, chaos, and confusion described above is the reality that Ohioans experienced from June 24, 2022 until Sept. 14, 2022 under the six-week abortion ban that opponents of Ohio Issue 1 are fighting to keep as Ohio law.

Ohio voters now have less than 20 days to decide if they want to help revive that reality, or pass a proposed amendment that would prevent it.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Ohio Issue 1: Attacks on Parental Rights Do Not Appear in Reproductive Rights Amendment

Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal

By Susan Tebben, Used with Permission

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series looking at the language of Ohio Issue 1 and the reproductive rights it would impact. The full language of the amendment can be found here.

The topic of parental rights does not appear in Ohio Issue 1 on the ballot Nov. 7.

There is no mention of denying any rights to parents in the process of enshrining reproductive rights like abortion, contraception, miscarriage care, and infertility treatment into the Ohio Constitution.

“I don’t think Issue 1 would affect parent’s rights at all,” said Tracy Thomas, the Seiberling Chair for Constitutional Law and director of the University of Akron’s Center for Constitutional Law.

Having studied reproductive rights cases in Ohio and nationwide, including the Dobbs case that overturned Roe v. Wade, Thomas said historically, “parental rights have consistently been retained.”

“I would expect that those (rights) can all stay consistent,” Thomas told the Capital Journal.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost also acknowledged that previous abortion rights court cases have upheld parental consent in a legal analysis of Issue 1 he released in early October.

Yost went on to say “The amendment does not specifically address parental consent.”

But, Yost argued, that consent “would certainly be challenged on the basis that Issue 1 gives abortion rights to any pregnant ‘individual,’ not just to a ‘woman.’”

The term “individual” is currently used 36 times in the Ohio Constitution, including in the definition of “health care system,” the eligibility of officeholders, and clauses on temporary housing and corporate property.

Only one use of the word “individual” is connected to a gender specifier: the constitutional language on marriage status “only one man and one woman” can be in a marriage “valid or recognized by this state,” and “relationships of unmarried individuals” can not hold the same legal status.

Still, Religious lobbies and anti-abortion rights groups that oppose the amendment have used that message as one of their primary arguments against the measure since the effort to get it on the ballot began.

In a new ad for the Issue 1 opposition group Protect Women Ohio, a coalition including Ohio Right to Life and other anti-abortion rights groups, Gov. Mike DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine feature as leaders against the measure.

Fran DeWine is shown in the ad saying Issue 1 “would deny parents the right to be involved when their daughter is making the most important decision of her life.”

Gov. DeWine admits in the ad that Ohioans “are divided on the issue of abortion,” but calls Issue 1 “not right for Ohio.”

The Catholic Conference of Ohio pointed to the first line of the proposed amendment and the word “individual,” saying the use of the word would allow anyone under age 18 to “have an abortion, or make any reproductive decision without their parents’ consent or notification.”

State Sen. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, the sponsor of the six-week abortion ban law that is currently on hold as court cases determine its fate, co-sponsored a resolution in the Ohio Senate on Oct. 11 officially standing against Issue 1.

In opposing Issue 1, she said the measure was “extreme, nefarious” and would “harm women and take away parental rights.”

The resolution passed with the GOP majority unanimously approving it. The seven Democratic senators all voted against the measure.

The resolution itself proclaims “parents are the ultimate arbiter of what is best for their children.”

In one paragraph of the resolution, sponsors Roegner and state Sen. Michele Reynolds, R-Canal Winchester, write that Issue 1 “will eliminate many, if not all, state laws regarding abortion,” including “parental notification requirements.”

In the next paragraph, the resolution states Issue 1 “may” eliminate parental rights.

Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood, pushed back against the resolution by bringing up a decade-old legal process present in Ohio called “judicial bypass.”

Judicial bypass, as it stands now, has been around since 2012 in the state, after then-Gov. John Kasich signed a law that prohibits forcing a minor to have an abortion, but leaves in place a legal way for minors to petition juvenile court to bypass parental consent.

The Ohio Supreme Court explained the process in Rule 23 of a 2015 amendment to its “rules of superintendence,” an internal operations document for all Ohio courts.

The legal method uses the court system to allow underage individuals to make decisions for themselves where parental consent would typically be necessary, such as in cases of abuse.

“If the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the minor is sufficiently mature and well enough informed to decide intelligently whether to have an abortion, the court shall grant the petition and permit the minor to consent to the abortion,” the law states.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Dear Ohio Republicans: Just Admit It, You Overplayed Your Hand and Lost

whining

Did you hear wailing and gnashing of teeth emanating from Ohio today? Oh my, Republicans are stumbling all over themselves trying to explain how Ohio voters turned down Issue 1 by a 3-2 margin.

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser tried to gaslight Ohioans by suggesting that others are to blame for the defeat of Issue 1:

Millions of dollars and liberal dark money flooded Ohio to ensure they have a path to buy their extreme policies in a pro-life state. Tragically, some sat on the sideline while outsider liberal groups poured millions into Ohio. A broad coalition of passionate pro-life Ohioans came together to fight parental rights opponents and try to take victory from the jaws of defeat. But the silence of the establishment and business community in Ohio left a vacuum too large to overcome.

Attacks on state constitutions are now the national playbook of the extreme pro-abortion Left. That is why everyone must take this threat seriously and recognize progressives will win if their opponents are scared into submission by the pro-abortion Left.

So long as the Republicans and their supporters take the ostrich strategy and bury their heads in the sand, they will lose again and again.

As you can see, Dannenfelser blames everyone but herself. Further, she outright lies when she says “Millions of dollars and liberal dark money flooded Ohio to ensure they have a path to buy their extreme policies in a pro-life state.” True in the sense that millions of dollars of outside money supported the Vote No on Issue 1 cause. What she neglects to say is that Vote Yes on Issue 1 received even more outside money.

The Ohio Capital Journal reported:

Roughly $35 million has flowed to political groups aiming to influence Ohio’s August special election. That includes money for campaigns for or against the ballot measure raising the threshold for constitutional amendments, as well as several closely aligned organizations.

On both sides — those opposing Issue 1, those supporting it, and those technically fighting November’s reproductive rights amendment — the vast majority of funding came from out of state.

The campaigns

Issue 1’s proponents have consistently argued a higher threshold for passing state constitutional amendments will act as a deterrent.

“This is about empowering the people of Ohio to protect their constitution from out of state special interests that want to try to buy their way into our state’s founding document,” Secretary of State Frank LaRose insisted in a televised statewide debate last week. “I’m here to say the Ohio constitution is not for sale.”

Opponents have repeatedly argued back that nothing in the proposal actually limits out-of-state influence.

The yes campaign committee, Protect Our Constitution, raised a little more than $4.85 million according to its filing. Nearly all of it came from a single individual who lives out of state.

Illinois billionaire Richard Uihlein donated a total of $4 million to the committee. The right-wing megadonor owns the Uline shipping and office supply company, and his grandfather and great-grandfather ran Schlitz brewing.

The largest contributions aside from Uihlein were $100,000 each from a PAC solely funded by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, and another connected with Ohio nursing homes. Other substantial contributions came in from Washington, D.C., Georgia and Tennessee. But less than $700,000, or just 14% of the total, came from Ohio donors.

Issue 1’s opponents are fundraising through a committee called One Person One Vote. The campaign raised a total of $14.8 million, about 16% of it coming from Ohio donors.

The filing doesn’t show anyone giving quite as much as Uihlein did in terms of dollar amount or percentage of the total. Still, the campaign did attract some pretty big fish. Karla Jurvetson, a Silicon Valley psychiatrist and philanthropist, cut checks totaling about $1.1 million.

One Person One Vote also got contributions of $1 million or more from liberal groups including the Sixteen Thirty Fund, among the largest left-leaning dark money groups, the Tides Foundation, Ohio Education Association and the National Education Association.

Alongside its filing, One Person One vote put out a statement describing their pride for “the enormous bipartisan coalition that has come together to defeat Issue 1.”

The (not quite the campaign) campaigns

Although One Person One Vote outraised Protect Our Constitution more than three-to-one, the ‘yes’ campaign was never just one committee. In all, there are four “Protect” organizations including Protect Women Ohio, Protect Women Ohio Action and Protect Our Kids Ohio.

Taken together, they give the yes side of the campaign a financial advantage.

These organizations are chiefly concerned with defeating the reproductive rights amendment that will be on the ballot this November. But because Issue 1 will raise the threshold for that November vote, they’re also deeply invested in its approval.

The first televised ads in favor of Issue 1? Those were paid for by Protect Women Ohio — not Protect our Constitution. Around the state, anti-abortion activists are making explicit appeals for Issue 1 based on undermining the reproductive rights amendment. Seth Drayer, the Vice President for Created Equal, recently warned the Delaware City Republican Club about a 2022 abortion amendment that passed in Michigan with 56% of the vote.

“If we move to 60% they’re not going to win in Ohio,” he said. “If we win August, we win November. It’s really about that simple.”

And like Protect Our Constitution, these allied groups are getting the vast majority of their funding from out of state.

Protect Women Ohio Action is actually a 501(c)(4) based in Virginia. Five million of its $5.2 million bankroll comes from The Concord Fund, a Washington D.C. based 501(c)(4) known publicly as the Judicial Crisis Network that spends heavily in favor of conservative judges. The other $200,000 comes from Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. The organization’s president is Protect Women Ohio Action’s sole board member.

Among Protect Women Ohio’s contributions is a $2 million check from Protect Women Ohio Action reported the same day The Concord Fund made a $2 million donation to the latter.

Of the groups pushing for Issue 1, Protect Women Ohio has by far the biggest piggy bank. But more than $6 million of that $9.7 million total comes from Susan B. Anthony. The only other substantial donations came from the Catholic Church. The Columbus and Cleveland Dioceses gave $200,000 each and the Cincinnati Archdiocese gave $500,000. In all, Protect Women Ohio raised about 16.3% of contributions in-state. The three donations from the Catholic Church make up more than half of that.

The Ohio Capital Journal by Nick Evans

President Joe Biden had this to say about Issue 1:

Today, Ohio voters rejected an effort by Republican lawmakers and special interests to change the state’s constitutional amendment process. This measure was a blatant attempt to weaken voters’ voices and further erode the freedom of women to make their own healthcare decisions. Ohioans spoke loud and clear, and tonight democracy won.

Biden rightly understood that this was a power grab by Ohio Republicans. They don’t want voters looking over their shoulders, daring to smack their hands when they overstep and ignore the will of everyday Ohioans. That’s what happens when you have a super-majority and control every major state office. The defeat of Issue 1 was Ohio voters saying to legislators that “we the people” have the final say. Hopefully, Ohioans will take the next step and vote deaf and blind Republicans out of office. They have largely stopped listening or seeing the commoners among them, so the only thing that will get their attention is to send them packing.

Ohioans rightly understood that this August special election was all about November’s vote on legalizing abortion. In 2022, eight percent of voters turned out for an August election. Afterward, Republicans did away with August elections, only to ignore this and hold a special election. Yesterday, forty percent of registered voters voted — a five-hundred percent increase in turnout. Take that Republicans, and come November’s election, a record voter turnout will lead to the approval of the reproductive rights amendment. Further, it looks like marijuana legalization will be on the ballot too. I guarantee you, more than fifty percent of voters want cannabis legalized.

The November vote will likely be a day of woe for Ohio Republicans. Supposedly, they are the party of “freedom.” Welp, this is what FREEDOM looks like. Don’t want an abortion, don’t get one. Don’t want to smoke marijuana, don’t take a toke. It’s really that simple.

I predict that Republicans will turn to the courts to stop the November reproductive rights amendment. Hopefully, their challenges will be rebuffed and Ohioans will have the final say on abortion.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Why it is Impossible to Talk to Pro-Life Zealots About Abortion

right to life

In the post, Why I Hate Jesus, I wrote four sentences about abortion. Here’s what I said:

This Jesus, no matter the circumstance, demands that a woman carry her fetus to term. Child of a rapist, afflicted with a serious birth defect, the product of incest or a one night stand? It matters not. This Jesus is pro-life.

That’s it.

Yesterday, a man who I assume is an Evangelical Christian left the following comment (which he later deleted) about these four sentences:

I would argue with you on only one point. You say this “Jesus” is pro-life and demands that a child be carried to full-term, regardless of handicap or disability of the child. Another man argued for only perfect babies being born. His name was Adolf Hitler. If you weren’t a “perfect” child, you were put in a hospital by your very own parents, and “caring” doctors would look over you, until it was time for you to get clean. They brought you to a shower room where you undressed, were hurded [sic] into a room full of shower heads and…. given the Nazi history…. You know the rest. “Loving” parents? “Caring” doctors? Throw away babies that are “damaged” goods, and what? Throw away children who are? Throw away teens who are? Throw away adults who are? After all, it’s for the “greater good” of society.

I’m sorry, but as an autistic child whose mother was told, “put him in the loony bin”, I take offense at that. My mother refused, and she raised me, gave me the best care, put me in the best special ed program she could find. Today I am a college graduate with a computer science degree, a successful career, a wife and two children who are honor students. “Damaged” goods? Some people would challenge you on that.

If you can argue for abortion on the argument that the child is “defective”, then who is safe? Are you? Could you crash your car tomorrow, put your head through the windshield and be brain dead for the rest of your life? (a la Terri Scheivo [sic]?) Should they kill you then? What if you “recover” to the point where you have the mind of a 3rd grader, but still have all of your feelings, emotions, likes, tastes and hurts? Should they still kill you because you’re not “perfect”? Should they kill people over 70 because they’re not “productive” members of society anymore? Where does it end? How “perfect” does society have to be? Where does the quest for a perfect society’s interference with the individual right to life, liberty and persuit [sic] of happiness end?

You can like or hate Jesus given the hypocrisy of modern Christianity, which is a stench! But please dispense with your utopian, perfect society model of Karl Marx or Lenin or Hitler or whoever your favorite “wordly” philosopher is. While I may agree with you about the “modern” Jesus, I acknowledge that there is a Devil, and this philosophy comes straight from him out of the pits of Hell.

All I could do is sigh and shake my head.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Letter to the Editor: Vote No on Issue One and Yes on the Reproductive Rights Amendment

letter to the editor

Dear Editor,

On August 8, 2023, Ohio voters will have the opportunity to vote no on Issue One; to turn back a Republican attempt to keep a simple majority of citizens from successfully exercising their right to overturn and invalidate egregious laws or amend the Ohio Constitution. We must not let this happen. That aside, we must not lose sight of why Republicans are so desperate to pass Issue One next month. One word: abortion.

In November, voters will have the opportunity to pass the Reproductive Rights Amendment. The passage of this amendment will legalize abortion in Ohio and put an end to Evangelical and conservative Catholic attempts to abolish and criminalize abortion. Left to their own devices, God’s Only Party will criminalize abortion, take away exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother, and ban certain forms of birth control. In other words, Republicans want to force women to give birth regardless of their circumstances.

700,000 signatures were collected to put the Reproductive Rights Amendment on the November ballot. 700,000! Republicans know that this number alone is a sign that the amendment will pass. So, using Issue One, they want to change the percentage of votes for passage from fifty percent to sixty percent. This ten percent swing could be enough to defeat the Reproductive Rights Amendment.

Forced birthers are primarily motivated by their religious beliefs. Most of them vote Republican. All of us have a right to believe whatever we want about God and life. However, we don’t have the right to force our religious views on others. Whether to have an abortion is a personal decision. If conservative Christians don’t want to get an abortion, fine, they don’t have to get one. End of discussion. However, other women may believe differently. Should they not have the right to make medical decisions for themselves? Republicans have no business getting in between a pregnant woman and her doctor.

If Ohioans who support the reproductive rights of women and think majority rule is sacrosanct turn out and vote, we will turn back the latest attempt by Ohio Republicans to force their religious beliefs on all of us. We will let them know that we have no intention of giving up the power to turn back egregious laws passed by legislators who are out of touch with everyday Ohioans.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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What Would a Bible-Based Culture Look Like?

abortion is murder al shannon

There is a staggering lack of Biblically-based knowledge and impact in America’s public square. Secularism, Christianity’s chief competitor, thrives solely in the absence of morality, and Christians have handed over the culture and its mountains of influence to those in rebellion against God. Any casual observer will recognize that secularism’s dominance of academia, newsrooms, sports, the Courts, big business, Hollywood, and medicine is a direct result of Christians ‘not doing politics’. It would seem that modern Christianity is ‘not doing education’ either, given that the secular worldview now is being spoon-fed to 85% of America’s youthUntil Christians step into the public square, reestablishing a Biblically-based culture, the ‘sexualization’ and secularization of youth, allied and abetted by Hollywood and media cliques, will continue to bring the nation to ruin.

— David Lane, The American Renewal Project

Evangelicals, conservative Catholics, and Mormons clamor for a Bible-based culture. In their minds, the Bible is the moral and ethical standard by which all of us should live. If only the United States were governed by the dictates of the Bible, all would be well. Several years ago, a local Fundamentalist Christian wrote a letter to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News (behind a paywall) extolling the wonderfulness of living in a country governed by the Bible. He went on to say that no one should fear Bible-based rule. “Christians,” he said, “only want what’s best for everyone.” Sadly, there are a lot of naive believers who think just like this man; Christians only want love, joy, peace, and ice cream for everyone. However, history tells us differently; that when church and state are one, blood is shed, people die, and freedoms are lost. And make no mistake about it, theocracy is the goal. Christian apologists might hide their theocratic beliefs with flowery words and philosophical verbiage, but the naked truth is that, in their minds, there is one Lord, lawgiver, ruler, king, and potentate, and his name is Jesus. There is one perfect and infallible law book — the Bible. Knowing they believe these things to be true, perhaps we should ponder what a Bible-based culture would look like.

One need only look at the frontal assault on abortion and Roe v. Wade. The latter having been effectively overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, what has happened since? Hundreds of new state anti-abortion laws severely restrict or outlaw abortion, often without exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. The goal? A federal ban on ALL abortion.

This will not be the end of the matter either. Emboldened by their win, Evangelicals, conservative Catholics, and Mormons will demand that birth control be outlawed and public-school students be taught Bible-based abstinence-only sex education. These zealots will also tirelessly work to enact laws that give fertilized eggs constitutional rights — demanding personhood for zygotes. The culmination of their efforts will come when doctors, following the dictates of their conscience, are prosecuted for performing abortions, and mothers are arrested and imprisoned for “murdering” their unborn “children.”

Several years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. The same people who tirelessly worked to ban abortion are the same people who strived to criminalize homosexuality and deny LGBTQ people the same constitutional rights afforded to heterosexual Americans. Don’t think for a moment that these people are sitting at home licking their wounds as they watch lesbian porn. Convinced of the rightness of their beliefs and interpretations of the Bible, Evangelicals are plotting to force gays back into closets and recriminalize sodomy and other “perverse” sexual behaviors. Now that the makeup of the Supreme Court skews to the right, I have no doubt that these zealots will do their best to afford the Court another bite at the same-sex-marriage apple. Believing that the Bible condemns homosexuality, theocrats demand and work towards a Bible-based culture where the Good Book®, and not personal morality and preferences, determines who may fuck whom, when, where, and how. Failing to conjugate according to God’s Holy Word would lead to arrest and imprisonment. And if these theocrats are consistent, they will demand that “sodomites” be executed for their crimes against humanity. This, dear readers, is what a Bible-based culture looks like.

In a Bible-based culture, other sexual “sins” such as adultery and fornication would also be banned. In fact, in the Old Testament alone, there are 613 laws. Of course, no Christian has ever kept all of God’s laws. Most Christians, including those clamoring for a theocracy, regularly and with impunity ignore God-given laws. Can anyone say, HYPOCRITES?! That said, even limiting a Bible-based culture to the Ten Commandments is dangerous. In both versions of the Decalogue — yes there are two versions and they differ from one another — the Christian God demands total and absolute fealty and worship. According to numerous Bible stories, worshipping other gods was considered a capital crime punishable by death. I am quite sure that if Evangelicals ever gain the power of the state, the first people rounded up and sent to Franklin Graham Reeducation Camps will be atheists and Muslims. Fundamentalist Christians have a deep-seated hatred for the godless and worshippers of Allah. It chaps their bleached testicles that we roam free on the Internet and in public. Every time the Freedom From Religion Foundation successfully litigates a church-state issue, their email inbox is filled with vile hate mail from offended followers of Jesus. Imagine these same people having the power of the state at their disposal. In a Bible-based culture, there’s no freedom of/from religion. There’s one God — Jesus — one religion — Christianity — and one lawbook — the Bible.

The next time you hear the cacophony of Evangelicals and other conservative Christians demanding the United States adopt a Bible-based standard of behavior, ask them exactly what they mean. Peruse the list of Actions Prohibited by the Bible on RationalWiki, and then ask them if their Bible-based culture would include some or all of the listed prohibitions. I think you’ll find that few zealots really want to live by all of the laws found in the Bible. Damn, talk about a miserable life! No, most theocrats just want to legislate and criminalize the big stuff. What they want, most of all, is a return to the 1940s and 1950s — a time when women were submissive keepers of their homes, Blacks knew their place, LGBTQ people were not seen or heard, and the only fucking going on was that between monogamous heterosexual married couples. They want a culture where everyone goes to church, loves Jesus, and schoolchildren read the Bible and pray every day. In other words, Evangelicals want to roll back a hundred years of social progress. Never mind that their vision of a Mayberry-like world exists only in their Bible-sotted minds. Does anyone really believe Andy wasn’t fooling around with Helen and Gomer wasn’t smoking weed in the gas station bathroom?

Several years ago, I wrote a post detailing why Evangelicalism is dying. Let me be clear, Evangelicalism IS, most certainly, dying, but it has stage-one, not stage-four, cancer. One need only watch the machinations of Evangelical culture warriors to see that they have no intentions of going quietly into the night. There are times when I tip my cap to Christian Fundamentalists. They know what they are fighting for and are willing to metaphorically and, at times, literally, kill everyone who gets in the way of their goal of establishing God’s kingdom on earth. Far too often, liberals and progressives are way too nice and polite. We can learn something from the tactics of Christian zealots: that social progress will only be achieved by stomping the beliefs and demands of theocrats into the ground. Until we understand that we are in a battle for the soul and future of American secularism, we will continue to have our asses handed to us by those demanding King Jesus rule over us all. Way too many secularists, religious or not, sit on the sidelines shooting the breeze while Christian Fundamentalists, in White Walker fashion, wage war against our Republic.

If the very thought of living in a Bible-based culture scares the living Christopher Hitchens out of you, then do something about it. You can start by joining and supporting groups such as the Freedom From Religion FoundationAmerican AtheistsAmerican Humanist AssociationSecular Coalition for AmericaSecular Student AllianceAmerican United for Separation of Church and State, and the American Civil Liberties Union. Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper. Work to elect political leaders who understand the importance of the separation of church and state and who will work with indefatigability to promote and preserve American secularism. And most of all, live out your liberal, progressive, humanistic values and ideals before the world. Let them see that there is, indeed, a better way.

If we don’t wage unholy war against theocrats, who will? Passivity is deadly, and if we refuse to fight, we have no one to blame but ourselves when President Billy-the-Baptist and a Christian Congress demand Americans everywhere bow and worship the one true lawgiver, Jesus.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Should Every Possible Effort be Made to Preserve and Save Human Life?

calvin and hobbes death

Fundamentalist Christian Jeff Maples believes ALL life matters, and it should be protected at ALL costs. Here’s what Maples said on The Dissenter website in 2019:

Critics have argued that reimplanting a fetus from an ectopic pregnancy is a procedure “not known to medical science” and would place obstetricians and gynecologists in a dire situation for not performing an “impossible procedure.” However, the bill does not require doctors to be successful in the procedure, rather take all measures at attempting to do so. This would, in effect, advance the science behind the practice making it more likely to save lives in the future. When dealing with human life, it is imperative that all measures be taken to preserve it — an unborn child deserves no less than a two-year-old child or an adult. That’s the whole point of the measure.

I wonder if Maples really believes all life matters. I wonder if he is a pacifist or anti-capital punishment? I wonder if Maples opposed President Trump’s barbaric immigration policies; policies that led to the deaths of adults and children alike? Something tells me he is not as pro-life as he says he is. Most Evangelicals are schizophrenic when it comes to matters of life and death. Typically, Evangelicals, and their counterparts in the Roman Catholic church, only think all life matters before birth. After birth, humans are on their own. Well, that is until it comes time to die. Then Evangelicals show up to protest and criminalize end-of-life attempts to lessen suffering and pain. Humans must suffer to the bitter end. According to Evangelicals and Catholics, euthanasia is humans playing God, and that must never happen. In their eyes, physician-assisted suicide is murder.

Maples believes that every effort should be made to preserve life. No matter the cost or the outcome, life must be preserved. I am sure that Maples believes his anti-death viewpoint is noble. It’s not. Maples and others like him see no qualitative difference between a fertilized egg and a thirteen-year-old; no difference between a thirteen-week-old fetus and its mother; no difference between a teenager with a full life ahead of her and a ninety-year-old man who is nearing death. Such thinking, of course, is absurd.

I do my best to have a consistent life ethic. That said, all life is not equal, nor should every effort be made to preserve life. There is a qualitative difference between a fertilized egg and its mother. The fertilized egg represents potential life. It cannot live outside of the womb. That’s why I support the unrestricted right to an abortion until viability. Once a fetus is viable, then the mother and medical professionals must consider its interests along with that of the mother. When it comes to choosing between the fetus and the mother, the choice, to me anyway, is clear: the mother. Granted, if the mother is gravely ill with cancer or some other terminal disease, then consideration should be given to saving the fetus. Such decisions are never easy, but one thing is for certain: we don’t need Evangelicals and Catholics, their God, or Republican politicians deciding what should be done.

As someone who knows that he is on the short side of life, I don’t want the Jeff Maples of the world butting their noses into my end-of-life decisions or those of my family. I know how I want the end of my life to play out, as do my wife and children. I don’t want Christian Fundamentalists getting between me and my God. “Huh? Bruce, you don’t have a God.” Well, I do when it comes to this discussion. If Christians want to wallow in needless pain and suffering at the end of their lives — all so their mythical God will give them an “attaboy” — that’s fine by me. However, my triune God — humanism, science, and reason — doesn’t demand that I suffer unnecessarily; when it is my time to die it is okay for me to say, “No más.” I expect my doctors, Polly, and my six children to honor my wishes. I have seen far too many people endlessly and needlessly suffer, all so Jesus would be honored and their families would know that they fought to the end. I have watched countless dying people go through unnecessary, painful procedures and treatments, all so their spouses and children could rest easy knowing that every possible thing was done to preserve their life.

Sadly, many people ignorantly think that longevity of life is all that matters; that enduring surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation is worth it if it adds a few weeks or months at the end of their lives. Evangelicals speak of being ready to meet God. They sing songs about Heaven and preach sermons that suggest True Christians® yearn and long for eternal life in the sweet by and by. Yet, when it comes time to die, they are in no hurry to catch the next train to Glory.

Instead of focusing on the longevity of life, the focus should be on the quality of life.  Sure, it is human nature to want to live as long as possible. But some things are worse than death. Often, the treatment is worse than a terminal disease. Personally, I would choose to live three months and then die, than to suffer the horrible side effects of end-of-life treatments that would often only add weeks or a few months to my life.

When it comes to dying, God is an unnecessary middleman. He and his Bible-sotted disciples get in the way of what is best for the sick and dying. Demanding that life be preserved at all costs only causes unnecessary pain and suffering. I know of Evangelical families who refused to let their dying loved ones die with dignity. You see, in their minds, all that matters is playing by God’s rules. All that matters is pleasing God. If their loved one has to suffer, so be it. God comes first. God mustn’t be offended, even if he prolongs the misery of the dying. Quite frankly, when it comes time for me to die, I don’t want religious zealots anywhere near me. I don’t need or want their prayers or admonitions. I want to be surrounded by my family. I want to hear them say, “Dad, it’s okay to let go.”

I have made my wishes known to my wife and children. Polly and I have spent a considerable amount of time talking about the various end-of-life scenarios; about what we want or don’t want to be done in the various circumstances we might face in the future. Both of us believe that quality of life is more important than extending life. We reject Jeff Maples’ notion that our lives should be preserved at all costs. We know that one day we will physically reach the end of the line. Hopefully, not anytime soon, but who knows (certainly not God), right? Better to have these discussions now than to have them under pressure or when one or both of us might not have the mental acuity to make rational choices.

I have specifically made plans to end my life when the quality of my life is such that I no longer want to live. I have talked to my counselor extensively about this. She is aware of my end-of-life plan. Of course, she encourages me to live, but she always knows that I am in decline physically; that it’s becoming harder for me to rise above my physical challenges. Most days, I am not suicidal, but I am acutely aware of what is happening to me physically. No cure or magical procedure is on the horizon, so I am “content” to face the limitations of mortality.

Not talking about death is not an option. Pretending we will live forever only leads to heartache when the lie is exposed. The moment we are born, we begin marching toward the finish line. While I would love to live to threescore and ten or fourscore, (Psalm 90:10) I know that’s unlikely. Probabilities come into play. All the positive thinking in the world won’t change the odds. I am grateful to have lived longer than my mom and dad. But it would be foolish of me to ignore the realities staring me in the face. Pretending that I am going to live to be a hundred helps whom, exactly?  The Bible is right when it says, “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” (Proverbs 27:1) Solomon was spot on when he wrote:

Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 8:15)

I give the following advice on the ABOUT page:

You have one life. There is no heaven or hell. There is no afterlife. You have one life, it’s yours, and what you do with it is what matters most. Love and forgive those who matter to you and ignore those who add nothing to your life. Life is too short to spend time trying to make nice with those who will never make nice with you. Determine who are the people in your life that matter and give your time and devotion to them. Live each and every day to its fullest. You never know when death might come calling. Don’t waste time trying to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Find one or two things you like to do and do them well. Too many people spend way too much time doing things they will never be good at.

Here’s the conclusion of the matter. It’s your life and you best get to living it. Someday, sooner than you think, it will be over. Don’t let your dying days be ones of regret over what might have been.

Do you think life should be preserved at all costs; that every effort should be made to preserve life? How do you come to terms with your mortality? Do you prefer longevity of life over quality of life? Please share your astute thoughts in the comment section. If you are so inclined, please share approximately how old you are. I am interested in how age affects our end-of-life viewpoints.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Bruce Gerencser