Ta’Kea Johnson has an emotional attachment to the issue of unsafe abortion methods. Her mother performed one when she was 16 and still lives with the consequences to this day.
“She had to revert to the old methods, like the coat hanger,” Johnson, a second-year in social work, said. “Now she still has long-lasting health effects because of it.”
This order was signed three days into Donald Trump’s presidency when he was still raving about his inauguration crowd size. – Nicholas Youngblood, a second-year in exploration.
Witnessing the outcome of unsafe abortions motivates Johnson to advocate at events like the one Wednesday, when #Fight4HER delivered petitions to U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s office, calling on him to support the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights (HER) Act.
“It’s something that affects women around the world,” Johnson said. “Secondly, it affects families, so men and women, the entire family.”
The #Fight4HER campaign is run by the Population Connection Action fund and seeks to influence legislators to pass the HER Act. The act would remove and permanently outlaw the Global Gag Rule instituted by President Donald Trump. The policy bars any foreign nongovernmental organizations that receive U.S. global health aid from discussing safe, legal abortion with their patients.
Nicholas Youngblood, a second-year in exploration who has been involved with the #Fight4HER campaign for one year, said a lot of people weren’t aware of the executive action.
“This order was signed three days into Donald Trump’s presidency when he was still raving about his inauguration crowd size,” Youngblood said. “He signed a lot of orders in that period of time when everyone was focused on his more outrageous comments.”
Despite this, Youngblood said the Ohio State campus is a place where it is easier to get people motivated about an issue that can seem so far away.
“The Ohio State community is really diverse and it helps build a lot of empathy for people across the world in all sorts of different situations,” he said. “The [Global Gag Rule] is disadvantaging a lot of people very unnecessarily and I think people really resonated with that.”
Portman was not in his office, but his aides received the message from the group. Portman does not hold an official position on the act.
Emmalee Kalmback, Portman’s press secretary, provided the following statement: “Rob is proud of his pro-life record and has always opposed using taxpayer dollars to fund abortions.”
Kit Sperl, a third-year in linguistics and Japanese, said the feeling of physically giving the petitions to the office felt rewarding.
“We’ve been standing out in the cold for hours a few times a week collecting these [signatures],” Sperl said. “Now we can actually put it where it will be useful with the senator who will have to take this into account now for his policy decisions.”
Johnson also was happy to make the delivery, but was frustrated by the inability to talk to Portman himself.
“That’s something I don’t like about government, not being able to talk to them directly when they’re supposed to be voicing the opinion of the people,” she said.