CLEVELAND — Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb has unveiled a series of new policies in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, to help ensure women’s reproductive rights.
The administration has been working with city council, listening to community leaders, and assessing the city’s capabilities.
On Monday, he rolled out six new policies for the City of Cleveland.
“Around the nation we see more and more large corporations making this as a benefit through their health plans. So for our particular program, we’re going to work with our health insurance providers to see what assistance they can provide also,” said Cleveland Law Director Mark Griffin. “This is really consistent with employers who want to take care of their employees and make sure that they can get the health services they need regardless of where they live.”
Bibb deems abortion-related investigations the lowest priority for police and said the city is looking to create a $100,000 Reproductive Freedom Fund to cover travel costs for city residents and employees seeking legal abortions in nearby states.
The rest of Bibb’s plan includes:
Chief Prosecutor Aqueelah Jordan, in collaboration with Law Director Mark Griffin, has pledged that no City attorney will prosecute, refer for prosecution, or otherwise participate in charging any abortion-related crimes.
Any investigation into and enforcement of criminal abortion-related charges will now become the lowest priority for the use of City resources, including personnel, time, and funds. This applies to all employees in the City’s executive branch, including the police.
While employees have a duty to uphold the law, the mayor must also make decisions about how the City spends its limited resources. For police, job number one is keeping Cleveland safe, not prioritizing enforcement of unjust restrictions against vulnerable people. This is even more important considering that both Cleveland and Cuyahoga County prosecutors have committed not to prosecute any abortion charges that reach their desks.
Reproductive Freedom Fund
The mayor is working together with Cleveland City Council to introduce and pass legislation to create a $100,000 “Reproductive Freedom Fund” that would cover travel, logistics, and lodging expenses for Cleveland residents and City employees seeking a legal abortion in a nearby state. This will be an essential resource that ensures all Clevelanders can get the care that they choose for themselves, even when that care is not available locally.
Human Resources is exploring the City’s options for its employees’ health insurance plans, to determine whether all health insurance plans offered could cover elective abortions if an employee seeks care out-of-state.
Commitment to Not Keeping Pregnancy Information
Under the Bibb Administration, information about individuals’ pregnancy status that would identify a doctor or patient will not be exchanged except in the case of a medical emergency to treat a patient or with the patient’s consent for the purpose of treatment, and payment, or health care operations. This is to ensure that this information, inadvertently or purposely kept, is not used against those individuals in the future prosecution of an abortion-related crime or to stigmatize or retaliate against them.
The City will do everything that can be done to refrain from keeping or disclosing this information unless medically necessary or otherwise required by law to disclose it for the purpose of treatment, payment, or health care operations.
Representing Clevelanders at the Ohio Supreme Court
All people and families in Ohio have been under attack since Roe was overturned, but Clevelanders face unique challenges—not just because we are the only majority-minority big city in Ohio, but because of the unique disinvestment that has plagued the City relative to its peers.
The Ohio Supreme Court is currently considering a challenge to the state law banning abortions after six weeks (S.B. 23). Ohioans’ reproductive rights are directly before the Court, and to elevate Clevelanders’ voices to the highest court in the state, the City is in the process of submitting an amicus brief (“friend of the court” brief) on its residents’ behalf in support of overturning Ohio’s six-week ban.