MASON – This week the ACLU of Ohio placed a billboard advertisement in the Southern end of Mason with one simple message: Abortion is Legal in ALL of Ohio. These pointed words respond to an extreme anti-abortion ordinance, passed by the Mason City Council on October 26, effectively declaring the city a “sanctuary for the unborn.” The Council approved the measure by a 4-3 vote.
The ordinance criminalizes anyone who provides financial assistance, helps with transportation, or even shares medically accurate information to anyone seeking abortion care – despite the fact that there are no abortion clinics in Mason and none planned.
“We hope this billboard will serve as a reminder to residents across Warren County – and as a warning to elected officials – that under the law of our land, abortion is legal, despite what special interest groups and some local officials would want you to believe. Ohio clinics remain open and services are available to individuals in need of abortion and other reproductive healthcare,” noted Freda Levenson, Legal Director for the ACLU of Ohio. “We are currently litigating five active lawsuits that challenge laws seeking to push abortion out of reach, and litigation against this new breed of city ordinances is not off the table.”
Since its controversial vote, Mason City Council dynamics have changed: residents chose not to reelect members who supported the abortion ban. There are efforts on the ground to repeal the ordinance when the new city council members assume office.
“In this city with over 34,000 residents made up of over 35 countries and 65 different languages spoken, this unconstitutional and extremist ordinance is not representative of all who live and work here,” said Mason resident Eva Schneiderman. “It is a grave overreach of local government and it will negatively impact and divide our community unless the newly elected Council rescinds it.”
The ACLU of Ohio released a toolkit in September to arm activists with a playbook on how to fight local anti-abortion laws in Ohio. The toolkit was produced in partnership with NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Ohio Women’s Alliance, Planned Parenthoods Advocates of Ohio, Preterm-Cleveland, URGE, and Women Have Options.
The billboard features a website, AbortionIsLegalInOhio.com, a digital hub with information in both English and Spanish about the existing clinics, how to access financial support, and the latest updates on abortion laws and lawsuits.