FFRF’s Ohio billboard defends abortion rights

Billboard and members 08.17.23

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has put up a billboard in Ohio’s capital saying “Abort Theocracy: Keep Abortion Safe & Legal” ahead of a crucial referendum on the issue.

The national state/church watchdog group and its Columbus chapter designed the billboard message in support of an upcoming November referendum to provide state constitutional protections for reproductive rights — and specifically to call attention to the religiously motivated crusade behind anti-abortion bans and restrictions. It’s a 14-by-48-foot bulletin on Hudson Street, 100 feet east of Summit Street facing west, in Columbus. The billboard went up last week and will be on display through Sept. 10.

“The fight to reaffirm abortion rights is really about the need to buttress the wall separating the state from the church,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The religious dogma of the few should not be allowed to deny rights to the rest of us.”

The proposed amendment in November specifically states that every person in Ohio has the right to “make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions on contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, miscarriage care, and abortion.” Ohioans overwhelmingly rejected a couple of weeks ago an attempt (formally termed Issue 1) that would have made it much harder to place such amendments on the ballot.

“To keep abortion safe and legal in Ohio is of paramount importance,” says FFRF Columbus chapter member Ed Sweeney. “I believe the billboard will bring attention to this, and the ‘Ohio Right to Make Reproductive Decisions Including Abortion Initiative’ will receive a positive vote on Nov. 7.”

Currently, a six-week abortion ban signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine is blocked in response to litigation by Ohio abortion clinics in a case destined for the Ohio Supreme Court.

And let’s make no mistake: The abortion referendum is not guaranteed victory in November.

“They’ve finished the battle, now it’s time for the war,” says a story in the Ohio Capital Journal. “That’s the sentiment on both sides of the Issue 1 fight, who have now pledged to come out of the ballot measure’s defeat and move on to the abortion referendum in November. Both, unsurprisingly, expect to come out ahead.”

This is why FFRF is doing its bit by displaying a pro-choice billboard message in one of Ohio’s most important cities warning of the link between theocracy and the suppression of abortion rights. In fact, FFRF started in Madison in the late 1970s after the experience of FFRF’s principal founder, Anne Nicol Gaylor, in crusading for abortion and contraceptive rights, which opened her eyes, as well as that of her daughter Annie Laurie, to the dangers of religious control of government.

“We realized that the battle for women’s rights would never end, unless we got at the root cause of the denial of those rights — which is the unwarranted influence of religion over our laws and social policy,” says Annie Laurie.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 40,000 members and several chapters across the country, including over 1,000 members and three chapters in Ohio. Its purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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