A nurse holds a sign in support of abortion access at a Planned Parenthood rally in Downtown Cincinnati on May 15, 2022.
Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb and City Council President Blaine Griffin announced Monday a suite of city policies related to reproductive healthcare. The policies emerged, they said, from weeks of discussion in the aftermath of the Dobbs decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
These policies are circumscribed by a commitment to non-enforcement and non-prosecution. In the first announced policy, City Prosecutor Aqueelah Jordan has pledged that neither she nor any city attorney will participate in charging abortion-related crimes. She effectively joins Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Mike O'Malley and other district attorneys nationwide in refusing to deploy court resources to prosecute private medical decisions.
Cleveland police personnel, too, will not waste time and energy investigating abortion-related criminal charges. These will now become "the lowest priority for the use of City resources, including personnel, time, and funds," a press release announcing the policies said.
In terms of its own resources, Bibb and Griffin say that they are currently working together to introduce legislation that will create a $100,000 Reproductive Freedom Fund. This city money would be used to cover the costs of Cleveland residents seeking abortions out of state. As Scene has previously written, these expenses include not only the cost of the procedure itself, but travel, lodging and potentially childcare and lost wages.
Both Bibb and Griffin affirmed their support for abortion as healthcare and access to abortion as a human right.
"We must do everything in our power to defend a woman’s right to choose what happens with her own body - not allow government or activist judges that control," said Griffin, in a press release.
Two additional policies relate to the human resources department. The city affirmed, as Bibb did weeks ago, that Cleveland HR will continue to "explore the city’s options" for employee health insurance plans. They are still making efforts to determine if all city plans cover elective abortions out-of-state. Additionally, the city has committed to not sharing employee information that identifies a doctor or patient, except in the cases of medical emergency. This non-disclosure commitment is to ensure that pregnancy-related information is not wielded against employees in the prosecution of abortion crimes.
Lastly, the city says that is drafting an amicus brief in the case currently before the Ohio Supreme Court that seeks to overturn the state's six-week abortion ban.
"As we hear about more and more extreme measures being considered at the state level, my administration will continue to look at all possible options—executive, administrative, legislative, and from the bully pulpit," said Mayor Bibb, in the release. "Reproductive rights are human rights, and I am committed to protecting those rights to the maximum extent that I can."
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