CLEVELAND — Women's March Cleveland is calling its Oct. 2 march downtown one of the most important marches it has ever hosted, a march to preserve reproductive rights as court challenges to the U.S. Supreme Count Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion continue.
Women's March organizer Kathy Wray Coleman told News 5 she anticipated nearly 1,000 people to take part in the Saturday march, which also protested against Senate Bill 123, or the Human Life Protection Act.
The measure, which was introduced at the Ohio Senate Health Committee on Oct. 29, is calling for a ban on Ohio abortion, except in cases when the pregnant person's life is at serious risk. Coleman said the bill is an attempt to take away the right of thousands of women statewide. Women's March is conducting 560 similar marches across the country on Oct. 2.
“It's one of the most important marches of the century, women’s right’s are under attack, our reproductive freedoms are under attack," Coleman said. “It would be one of the most detrimental things that can happen to women. Not only do they want to control the bodies of women, they want to control people, they want to control women."
Delores Gray with Women's March Cleveland told News 5 the march is way to tell state lawmakers that women are not going to stay silent.
“We have to take a stand, we can not sit back anymore, we can not sit back and allow these things to happen," Gray said. “It’s political as well, it’s trying to control a group of people, it’s trying to marginalize women in general."
Gray was one of the hundreds at the march on Saturday, which started at Market Square in Ohio City.
Activists and supporters from all over Northeast Ohio came out to march and protest.
“It’s not up to the government to decide what choice a woman should make for her body, she needs to make that choice herself for her reason," said attendee Suzanne Cumming.
“It's not just about abortion. Its about women's rights. Men should not be making laws that affect women's rights to their own bodies," said attendee Laura Sterlekar.
But Senate Bill 123 co-sponsors Sen. Sandra O’Brien/District 32-Ashtabula (R), and Sen. Kristina Roegner, District 27-Hudson (R) said the measure is needed to protect the lives of unborn children, and is what Ohio needs in response to a state that has strong pro-life support.
The measure is "trigger legislation" that if passed, would only be enacted if court challenges of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide were successful.
Allie Frazier, Director of Communications with Ohio Right to Life told News 5 she believes the bill is following what the majority of Ohioans want.
“It's exactly the next step Ohio Needs to take, Frazier said. “Roe v. Wade is on the ropes, it’s only a matter of time before the Supreme Court strikes down this historical egregious decision...Compounding the trauma of rape with the trauma of abortion, simply creates another victim in the child, and make it that much harder for the woman to heal."
There were six keynote speakers for the Oct 2, 2021 Women's March Cleveland March for Reproductive and Civil Rights including Eleventh Congressional District Nominee Shontel Brown, who is also a Cuyahoga County councilwoman and chair of the county Democratic party, former Ohio Senator Nina Turner, state Sen. Nickie Antonio of Lakewood, Cleveland Ward 5 Councilwoman Delores Gray, activist Cheryl Lessin, and Melisa Graves, the president and CEO of the Journey Center for Safety and Healing in Cleveland.