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Tag: Forced Birth

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost Continues to Stand in the Way of the Reproductive Rights Amendment

dave yost

By Marilou Johanek, used with permission from Ohio Capital Journal

It was plain what Ohio voters approved last November with Issue 1. An overwhelming majority of Ohioans voted for a reset on abortion rights after relentless government assault on reproductive freedoms under the state’s patriarchal theocratic rule.

The consensus of 57% of the electorate was to enshrine the fundamental right to abortion in the Ohio Constitution.

Issue 1 also explicitly barred the state from directly or indirectly burdening, prohibiting, penalizing or interfering with access to abortion, and discriminating against abortion patients and providers.

It’s right there in the ballot language of the constitutional amendment voters said “yes” to last November. But now, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, who issued a legal analysis that largely stood against Issue 1 before it was approved by voters, argues Ohioans didn’t vote for what they did.

For months Yost has been doing his level best to legally obstruct implementation of the newly amended state constitution by maintaining the legitimacy of burdensome and discriminatory pre-Issue 1 abortion restrictions that clearly violate the letter of the law post-Issue 1.

He slow walks every single constitutional challenge to every single Republican statute still on the books that interferes with abortion access by erecting unnecessary government barriers between a woman and her right to an abortion.

Yost had the gall to contend that Ohio voters didn’t pass Issue 1 to block unnecessary government-mandated delays before patients are allowed to obtain abortions, or to eliminate government-mandated information (that is at least irrelevant and at worst distressing) prior to receiving care.

Yes. They. Did.

Yost cannot pick and choose, a la carte, which provision of the voter-mandated abortion rights amendment applies to unconstitutional restrictions that remain in the Ohio Revised Code.

But that’s what he’s trying to do in courtroom arguments to keep burdensome and discriminatory state abortion restrictions in force indefinitely, including the 24-hour waiting period for abortion patients – a medically unwarranted government mandate not applicable to any other medical procedure – plus separate, in-person visits for patients to be schooled in required anti-choice material designed to discourage abortions.

Yost and his fellow Republican theocrats like to intimate that childlike Ohioans who voted for Issue 1 didn’t fully understand what they were doing. The naïve majority who cast their ballots in favor of the amendment simply failed to grasp what it meant to the common sense abortion regulations Republican men had imposed on Ohio women.

Court filings by Yost’s office suggest gullible citizens thought a vote for Issue 1 would just give women the same abortion rights they had under Roe v. Wade. Never mind what the language added to the Ohio Constitution (and read by Issue 1 voters) actually said.

Yost analyzed that text at length last year before the November election in a disingenuous critique ripped by a former Ohio AG and AG candidate as “a biased hit piece that is intended to confuse voters and weaken support for the amendment.”

Yost concluded that all state abortion laws, such as the 24-hour waiting period and state mandated “informed consent” provisions, would likely be erased if the amendment passed. They “would certainly be challenged under Issue 1” and subject to the “exclusive scrutiny test” of the court as to whether or not they “burden, penalize, prohibit, interfere with, or discriminate against” the right to abortion, reasoned Yost.

The problem is, countered his peers, “no such standard of review exists in law – Yost has created it out of whole cloth to support his arguments.”

Yost was, wrote Marc Dann and Jeff Crossman, “deliberately misleading” with “hyperbolic claims and scare tactics.”

He was also revealing his fealty to partisan extremism over the public interest of truth-telling.

Today, Yost crafts his own textual interpretation of the changes Ohioans mandated in state abortion law and audaciously assumes what voters were thinking when they enshrined the right “to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions” in their constitution. It is obvious he does not respect the will of the people or acknowledge their sovereignty in self-governance.

Yost, ever the media hound, wants to attract attention as a courtroom combatant for the hard right. To that end, he will fight constitutionally protected abortion rights in Ohio with protracted litigation and frivolous appeals to subvert implementation of the law with whatever legal tool he has to keep Ohio women subjugated as second-class citizens.

Yost is fixated on generating headlines and getting on TV. So he pursues partisan lawsuits with other Republican AGs to exploit MAGA wedge issues, especially concerning transgender equality, and files a slew of Trump-loving, regulatory-hating amicus briefs to the Supreme Court.

Ohio’s chief law enforcement officer waves off Trump’s 88 felony counts in four jurisdictions for charges ranging from “pervasive and destabilizing lies” about election fraud to illegally hoarding classified documents and falsifying business records in a hush money coverup to win the 2016 election. Yost appears guided by selective application of the law when it comes to the accused felon and presumptive presidential nominee of his party.

But Ohio’s AG is misguided if he thinks Ohioans are willing to concede that same selectivity when it comes to their hard-won constitutional right to reproductive freedom. They know what they voted for and so does Yost.

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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Questions: Bruce, Are You Losing Any Sleep Over Arizona’s Abortion Law?

questions

Every year or two, I ask readers to submit questions they want me to answer. That time has arrived once again. Any question. Any subject. Please leave your questions in the comment section or send them to me via email. I will try to answer them in the order received.

I look forward to reading and answering your questions.

Revival “I Lie for Jesus” asked:

How much sleep is being lost that the babies are gonna live in Arizona? Baby killers having a fit.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am not losing any sleep over Arizona banning abortion. Women’s lives and rights are in the balance, so there is no time for me to sleep. Instead, I am doing all I can to legalize abortion, not only in Arizona, but every state in the Union.

A baby is a fetus that can live outside of the womb on its own. When the egg and sperm unite, potential life is formed. This potential life grows from a zygote to a fetus to a baby. I support unrestricted abortion up until viability. Most abortions take place in the first trimester.

It is forced birthers who are having a fit. They know they have overplayed their hand, and now they must contend with pro-reproductive rights initiatives on state ballots. In every state where abortion has been on the ballot, reproductive rights initiatives won. I proudly helped legalize abortion in Ohio last year. If this makes me a “baby killer,” so be 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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Bruce’s Ten Hot Takes for April 10, 2024

hot takes

Almost 200 aid workers have been killed in Gaza since October 7, 2023. This is unconscionable.

If Donald Trump was not on the 2024 ballot, Joe Biden would not get my vote. His immoral inaction over Israel’s war against the Palestinian people is a bridge too far for me.

Biden plans to give Israel $18 billion more in weapons of mass destruction. Bernie Sanders is right, Israel should not receive a nickel more in U.S. aid as long as they are waging indiscriminate war against defenseless Palestinians and withholding/hindering humanitarian aid.

Studies show increased DNA tests reveal incest more prevalent than thought. Is anyone really surprised by this? I suspect the same can be said for an increase in people finding out that their biological father is not the man who says he is.

Hillary Clinton tells voters who are upset over Biden-Trump rematch to “get over yourself.” Sorry, Hillary I’m still pissed over your feckless 2016 presidential campaign. Taking pot shots at Democrats who want better candidates and principled policies is driving people away from the Party. You’ve been warned.

Major League Baseball ⚾️ has started. Hope springs eternal. Will this be the year my Cincinnati Reds make a deep playoff run? Please God . . . 🤣

Arizona Republicans said they wanted a total ban on abortion, and the Supreme Court gave them one. Now they are distancing themselves from the very thing they wanted. Why? They fear being voted out of office by angry women who are tired of men controlling their reproductive rights.

Don’t believe one word Trump says about abortion. He will literally say anything to get elected. I guarantee you, once elected he will give forced birthers exactly what they want.

Our kitten, Petey, the Ferret, is six months old. We are currently living through the cat equivalent of the terrible twos. Last night, Polly put leftover garlic bread in a bag and left it on the kitchen counter. Come morning, garlic bread was spread all over the kitchen/living room floor. The bag? Petey took it upstairs. Never a dull moment.

Wonder and awe for this atheist was seeing and experiencing the total eclipse on Monday. God is nothing compared to this.

Bonus: Polly started her new job last week at Sauder Manufacturing in Stryker, Ohio. She is working first shift in their sewing department. This was an inter-company move, so she kept all her benefits, albeit with a $160 a week play cut since she is no longer a manager. We survive, to live another day.

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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Ken Ham Lies About the Size of a Four-Week-Old Human Embryo

Ken Ham, the CEO of Answers in Genesis, and the builder of two monuments to ignorance, the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter, recently took U.S. Representative Ted Lieu to task for misrepresenting what a nine-week fetus looks like; saying that Lieu was a liar. In doing so, Ham told his own lie about a four-week-old embryo.

Here’s the picture of a four-week-old embryo Ham used in a post titled What Does a 9-Week-Old Baby Look Like? California Representative Lies About It:

fetus at four weeks

According to the British National Health Service:

Your [four-week-old] baby, or embryo, is about 2mm long (about the size of a poppy seed) and growing rapidly in your womb. It’s protected by an amniotic sac, which is filled with cushioning fluid, and attached to a tiny yolk sac that provides all the nourishment it needs. The outer layer will later develop into the placenta and provide your baby with oxygen and nutrients.

According to the NHS, a four-week-old embryo is 2 mm long. For us Yanks, who are metric ignorant, that is .08 of an inch. As you can see, Ham lies about the size of the embryo, overstating its size by three hundred percent.

Ham also uses a classic sleight of hand used by forced birthers to distort public perception of fetal development and abortion. A four-week-old embryo is the size of a poppy seed. Yet, Ham blows up the picture to show an embryo that is five inches long — sixty-three times larger than it actually is. Ham knows that if he displayed the actual size of a four-week-old embryo, his readers would be unimpressed and might even approve of women taking Mifepristone at this stage of fetal development.

It is common for forced birth zealots (I do not use the term pro-life) to use pictures of fetuses aborted late term in their propaganda — even though very few abortions are performed in the last trimester. Why is that? People such as Ham know that abortion is an emotional issue. What better way to stir emotions than deceitfully using pictures of late-term fetuses, misrepresenting what most embryos/fetuses look like when pregnancies are terminated?

Ken Ham and the zealots at Answers in Genesis do not traffic in facts. Their agenda is to promote and advance the teachings and beliefs of Fundamentalist Christianity. Their “facts” always serve that end, and that’s why Ham was willing to lie in his post.

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: Stopping the Religious Right’s Attempt to Ban Abortion

preaching anti abortion gospel lexington kentucky (6)

Letter to the editor of The Bryan Times

Dear Editor,

After the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade and returned the regulation of abortion to the states, many liberals and progressives thought that culture warriors would move on to other hot-button issues such as same-sex marriage, gender-affirming care for transgender people, and banning library books that offend their religious sensibilities. As someone who was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years, I warned my fellow progressives that Evangelicals, conservative Catholics, and Mormons were not finished on the abortion front; that their true objective is to pass total abortion bans. No exceptions for rape and incest. No exceptions for the life of the mother or fatal fetal abnormalities. From the moment the sperm fertilizes the egg — no abortion. Period.

Eighty-eight percent of abortions take place in the first trimester. Late-term abortions are rare, and usually the result of fatal fetal abnormalities or threats to the lives of mothers. Yet, forced-birth groups, including those in rural Northwest Ohio, almost always use gruesome photos of late-term aborted fetuses to inflame the passions of supporters. Why is that? I suspect a photo of a zygote or a four-week-old blastocyst doesn’t stir people to open their checkbooks to give money to forced birth groups as a bloody fetus does.

Currently, signatures are being collected for a ballot initiative that will legalize abortion in Ohio. Hopefully, this initiative will be on the ballot in November. Ohio Republican legislators are doing everything in their power to derail the ballot initiative, including upping vote percentage for an amendment to pass.. It is likely Republican attempts to hinder the democratic process will fail and Ohioans will be able to put an end to the religious rights frontal assault on reproductive rights.

The good news is that the majority of voters support reproductive rights. While they may want certain restrictions on post-viability abortions, most Ohioans support a woman’s right to choose. This is especially the case for younger adults who generally oppose the religious right’s culture war. If younger adults turn out to vote, that will put an end to forced birth laws.

We mustn’t underestimate the goal of Evangelicals and conservative Catholics; not only in banning abortion but also banning many forms of birth control. Their goal is to return Ohio and the United States to the good old days of the 1950s. We must not let this happen.

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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My Recent Interaction on Social Media with a Fundamentalist Christian Named Soupy Sales

peanut gallery

What follows is a recent discussion I had on Facebook with a local Fundamentalist Christian named Soupy Sales (SS) on the subject of abortion. I also had conversations with four other local Evangelicals. I typically don’t engage in such discussions on social media, but I felt the urging of the Spirit, so I did so. I doubt that I changed hearts or minds, but, maybe, just maybe, I planted a few seeds of doubt. You can read all of the discussions here.

Enjoy! 🙂

SS: If you want to kill a baby (abortion sounds better)…it’s between you and God…So leave me out of your murder. I don’t want to have to pay for your abortion…praying God opens your eyes.

Bruce: no, it’s between a woman and her doctor.

Abortion is a medical procedure. Let’s say you needed a heart transplant and I’m opposed to heart transplants for religious reasons. Should I be able to keep you from getting a heart transplant? After all, I don’t want to have to pay for it (through insurance premiums or taxes).

Participating in the American social contract means we will, at times, pay for things we disagree with.

SS: American Social contracts doesn’t include supporting murder of an innocent life….

Bruce: then why are you complaining about having to pay for them? Which is it?

SS: .here in simple words for you to understand….because people like you are trying to get it pass to be free for every woman who wants to get one…understand…

Bruce: you mean like every other medical procedure? Yes, insurance should be required to cover all reproductive services just like they do other medical procedures. We need to stop making carve-outs for “offended” Christians.

No need to insult my intelligence. Do better.

SS: murdering an innocent life doesn’t offend you…so sad..

Bruce: I reject your claim that abortion is murder. That’s a religious claim; one, I might add, that has dubious Scriptural support. You are certainly free to let your religious beliefs inform your medical decisions. However, your religious beliefs should play no part in the medical care of others. We are a secular state. There’s a wall of separation between church and state. Thus, what you or any other Christian wants shouldn’t matter. That it does reveals how far afield we are from our founding principles.

If supporting reproductive rights makes me a “murderer” so be it. I don’t care one whit what you think of me. My wife, my adult daughters, my ten granddaughters, my sister, and the women who will be protesting the reversal of Roe v. Wade on Saturday? They are the people who matter to me. I learned long ago that no amount of arguing will change the minds of forced birthers. (For the record, I was anti-abortion for 45 years.)

SS: it not my claim…it’s God’s words….read Proverbs 6 verses 16 to 19. This country was founded in God we trust not do whatever you want. So you are saying you didn’t learn anything after 45 years. If you really care about your family than lead them to the truth not to hell. No one is forcing anyone to have a baby….there are protective products out there or sustain having sex until you are married. Shame on you. Go read the context and reason that Thomas Jefferson wrote in the constitution about church and state separation. Read his words not mine or anyone’s else for the truth…if you can handle it.

Bruce: Saying the Bible is a God’s word is a “claim,” for which you provide no evidence. The Bible was written by mostly unknown men. It is a human text through and through. To say it is a God’s word is a faith claim, one that I reject.

You do know I was in the Evangelical church for fifty years, right? A college-trained pastor for 25 years. I know what the Bible says inside and out. But, its words are irrelevant. We live in a secular state governed by laws. Forced birthers are using the power of the state to rob women of bodily autonomy, civil rights, and equal protection under the law. As is our right, those of us who value the rights of women will protest.

I’ve read Jefferson’s words. I’m quite familiar with the separation of church and state.

SS: first…The Bible is God’s holy word…you are not rejecting me…you are rejecting Jesus. A believer job is to spread the word….especially when someone is lost…No one is stopping a woman from having an abortion. It’s between her and God…She makes the choice. Abortion is killing an innocent baby. She should be shown both sides not just one. To be a preacher…you are called by God ….not a college trained person. Satan knows the Bible better than me or you. Just because you belong to a church doesn’t make you saved. You should know that. You must lay down your life and take up your cross. Jesus said that…You should know that. Matthew 6 verse 24. Obviously, you don’t study your Bible or the first amendment. In closing…Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Matthew 15 verses 13 and 14. Shame on you for leading people to hell.

Bruce: sigh. Do you really think quoting Bible verses will make a difference with me? Really?

I likely know more about the Bible than you do. I spent over 20,000 hours reading and studying the Bible. So pick the subject and let’s talk. Or you can keep verbally masturbating, thinking your proof texts mean anything except to you.

I understand where you are coming from. I once was just like you.

Feel free to email me via my blog. I’m more than happy to engage you in discussion.

SS: I’m quoting God’s words not mine. As Jesus said….No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mam-mon. Matthew 6:24. You should know that. Yes we were once the same…sinners..but now I’m saved and converted…Jesus is my Lord and Savior. If don’t believe in God’s word…what’s there to debate about…your non-believe…really…for person that confess to be pastor…your language. Do you really think you know more than our maker? I leave you with Psalms 14: 1….The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

Bruce: no, we were once the same: saved/born again Fundamentalist Christians. My storyline. You don’t get to control it.

Isn’t amazing that God always agrees with you; or that the Bible always supports your peculiar beliefs? A-m-a-z-i-n-g.

Do I know more than your deity? Of course I do, he/she/it is a myth.”God” doesn’t know anything. People do. That’s why I’m talking to you, not the ceiling.

OMG! You called me a fool! Why, I’ve never, ever had that happen before. Again, I reject the authority of the Bible, so I don’t care what it says. I’m more concerned with what my God, Polly Gerencser, 🤣 says than a fictional deity.

I’d be more than happy to discuss with you the Bible itself: its nature, history, inerrancy, infallibility, immoral teachings. Better yet, I will gladly pay for one of Dr. Bart Ehrman’s books on these things and have it shipped to you. Ehrman, a NT scholar at the University of North Carolina, is an expert on these issues.

I don’t like the pants you are wearing! Tough poop, you say? So it is with people who try to police language.

SS: So you going to take the words of a man than Jesus. I did not call you a fool…I quoted you a Bible verse. I leave you with Psalms 118 verse 8…It is better to trust in the Lord than put confidence in man. Praying God opens your eyes to the truth…if it be God’s will.

Bruce: you do know Jesus never wrote anything, right? Not one word. We have no idea what Jesus said. The gospels were written by unknown authors 30-80 years after the death of Jesus; that the oldest copies of the gospel manuscripts — copies of copies of copies — were written 300-400 years after Christ’s death. There’s no evidence for the claim Jesus spoke the words in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. I know you have heard differently, but what you have been told is not true (and most educated preachers know it’s not true).

You put your trust in “men” all the time. Even with religion, you put your trust in preachers, teachers, and books. The Bible is a compilation of books, all written by, mostly unknown, men. Most of the books of the Bible were not written by the men whose names are attached to them. Seminary and college-trained preachers know this, yet they hide the facts about the Bible from their congregants. They lie because they don’t want church members to lose “faith” in God/Bible. Truth matters, and pastors owe it to people to tell them the truth about the nature and history of the Bible.

My offer of a Bart Ehrman book stands. I’ll even give you a copy of one of his books that you can pick up from my home in Ney. I’ll put it on my front porch so you don’t even have to talk to me. Surely, truth matters to you. If your faith is as strong as you claim it is, surely a “book” won’t harm you. You deserve to know the truth about the allegedly inerrant, infallible Bible. Let me know.

SS: your belief and trust is in man and in the world….I believe and trust in Jesus the creator. Praying for your eyes to be opened.

Bruce: no, you trust in “men” too. When you go to the doctor, dentist, lawyer, or auto mechanic, you put your faith and trust in “men.” You do this countless times every day. If not, you’d sit in a corner of your home, waiting for God to do everything for you.

My eyes are wide open, friend. That’s why I’m an agnostic atheist and a humanist. You keep wanting me to return to the garlic and leeks of Egypt. No thanks. Why would I ever want to return to slavery and bondage? My life is better in every way post-Jesus.

But, by all means, keep praying. We will what kind of pull you have with the triune God.

My offer of a Bart Ehrman book still stands.

SS: for someone who supposedly believed has turned so easily. Peter 1 verse 21 …For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Question what made you change from supposedly loving Jesus to hating Jesus? For your 25 years of a being a so called pastor nothing but a big lie in your eyes. Shame on you for being a wolf in sheep clothing. You can keep your Satanic books written by world centered scholar. Always, praying God’s will be done not mine.

Bruce: I have written extensively about my story. Seek and ye shall find. I’ve provided numerous links on this post.

There is a difference between a claim and evidence. Quoting a Bible verse is a claim. Where’s the evidence for the truthfulness of your claim? Just because you said so?

I wasn’t a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Just ask any of the people I pastored. Sadly, you have refused to answer any of the challenges or questions I offered up. Instead, you resort to insults and proof texting. I am used to such treatment from Evangelicals. When someone can provide no evidence for his claims, instead of admitting this, he attacks his interlocutor.

You are so certain you are right, that you fear reading anything that might challenge your Fundamentalist assumptions. It’s just a book. Surely, your God is more powerful than a book.

SS: both the man and the woman will answer for their choice…Nobody has the right to kill an innocent baby .

Bruce: according to the Bible, babies aren’t “innocent.”

In Genesis 6-9, we have the story of Noah and the Flood. God killed everyone on earth save eight people. Did God kill any “innocent” babies?

SS: glad you found your Bible…now let’s see if can read some Bible…Question …How do you know if there were any children at that time? Everyone is born in sin..a baby is considered to be innocent until the holy ghost convicts their heart and let’s them know that they are a sinner….and they need salvation. Being supposedly a pastor, you know this. Have you ever in your 50 years of studying the bible…heard the age of accountability? You should…So sad….for your lack of knowledge.

Bruce: why do you seem to be incapable of interacting with people you disagree with without insulting them?

Actually, there are several different views of the age of accountability. Most Evangelicals don’t believe babies become sinners, they are sinners (from conception). “I was shaken in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

Regardless, the age of accountability is a red herring that has nothing to do with God killing innocent people. I used the word in a colloquial sense, as you did.

Based on Genesis 6-9, God killed innocent babies. Many scholars believe upwards of 6 million people were killed in the flood. Are you really suggesting that there were no fetuses, babies, young children, or developmentally disabled people killed in the flood?

SS: 1 Timothy 6: 20 and 21. ..O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:

Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.

For your information you are one who said that you were smarter than me and God. I just asked a question if you have 25 years of being a pastor and 50 years of studying …why is understanding and knowledge of the Bible lacking.

So sorry your feelings got in the way of our discussing the truth.

Listen…Jesus is my Lord and Savior…I pray to God everyday thanking him for saving a sinner like me.

Obviously, the only thing you want to do is argue a point that has been settled along time ago….bye…still God will open your eyes before its too late.

SS: Hey you need to hang around with Bruce because both of you: hate the Bible, believe in abortion and can’t handle the truth…..praying God will open your eyes before its too late…..bye…got better things to do…

Bruce: feelings? Nope, you are an amateur compared to other Evangelical assholes over the years. Most of you seem incapable of having a discussion without hurling insults or attacking someone’s character. Please go to the Bible and find out what it says about your behavior. Start with the fruit of the Spirit, the sermon on the Mount, and what Jesus said about how you should treat your enemies. You might also want to check out what Paul said about “corrupt communication.”

This is my last comment.

Be well.

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.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Bruce Gerencser