We appreciate the time you spent talking to us last week on Women’s Lobby Day. We left your office feeling we are in agreement with you on some points. For example, we commend you for your leadership in passing the official statement concerning Ohio’s emergency crisis in infant mortality. However, when we mentioned the effort by the governor and legislature to reduce Medicaid coverage of pregnant mothers from 200% to 138% of the poverty level, you indicated you were not aware of such an effort. This change is in the Kasich budget which the House has passed. Senator Shannon Jones (R) and Representative Emilia Sykes (D) are working on an amendment to restore funding to the 200% level. “The Columbus Dispatch” had a front page article on this issue on May 29th which made very clear how devastating defunding would be to the success of improving infant mortality rates. We expect you to play a leadership role in passing this amendment, since a legislator who has led formal recognition of a crisis has an obligation to help remedy the crisis.
Equally important in reducing infant mortality rates, a goal we share with you, is equal pay for women. Representative Kathleen Clyde has sponsored a bill on this issue. In our discussion, you said that you understand that equal pay for women would help break cycles of poverty, but you, as a Republican, do not like to mandate. We were struck by the inconsistency of a legislator who will not mandate equitable salaries for women but will mandate that a woman carry a Downs Syndrome fetus to term. Many of your constituents feel that mandating such intimate, personal, life-changing decisions concerning a pregnancy is beyond the scope of government. Legislating equitable salaries, however, is within the scope of government, and we hope you will reconsider your opposition to such legislation. We also hope that you will be vigilant in defending physicians’ rights to communicate all medical options to women who have the right to uncensored information concerning any reproductive health situations they may be facing.
In our discussion of HB 132, the Ohio Prevention First Act, co-sponsored by Representative Michelle Lepore-Hagan, you indicated that although your family chose the “abstinence only” option, you do not oppose contraception. HB 132 is a comprehensive, abstinence-inclusive, sex education program for teens which could help lower infant mortality and abortion rates. We hope that you will support it.
I am writing this letter on behalf of Jill Grubb, Susan Grundy, Lindsey Kohlenberg, and Judy McKirgan, as well as myself.
Diane Farahay, County Road 218