'Stop The Ban' Abortion Rights Advocates Rally In Downtown Cleveland

Demonstrators in Cleveland’s Public Square listen to speakers at the “Stop the Ban” rally.
The “Stop the Ban” rally attracted hundreds of pro-choice demonstrators to Public Square in Cleveland. [Lecia Bushak / ideastream]
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Protesters gathered in downtown Cleveland Tuesday to speak out against the so-called Heartbeat Bill in Ohio as well as other laws limiting abortion around the country.

The “Stop The Ban” rally in Cleveland’s Public Square Tuesday evening was part of a national effort to jump-start action for reproductive freedom, according to NARAL, one of the sponsors of the demonstration.

Last month, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed into law Ohio’s so-called Heartbeat Bill prohibiting abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be heard, typically around six or seven weeks into pregnancy. It does not include exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

Elizabeth Oestreicher attended the rally and said she hopes it spurs Ohioans to challenge the law.

“I think that right now, the right to women’s bodies and reproductive rights is under attack,” Oestreicher said. “Maybe if we can make some changes here, and stop the more restrictive bills, then other states will be able to do that as well.”

Last week, the ACLU of Ohio filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Heatbeat law, which is set to take effect July 10, unless blocked by a federal judge.

Kristi Hadgigeorge joined the rally and said she made a sign at the last minute.

"I just needed to feel this presence, and feel I'm not alone as a female," she said. "We have these people here, we have countless cities today that are also protesting, and we're standing up in solidarity."

Hannah Servedio, a field organizer with NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, was one of the speakers. 

"I think that everybody, in the last couple of weeks, has been really angry, and understandably so," Servedio said before the demonstration. "I’m really hoping this rally can serve as a kick-off point for people to turn their anger into tangible action."

Some of those next steps include getting people to volunteer with pro-choice organizations, writing to legislators, and doing outreach in the community, Servedio said.

"I want to make clear to legislators that we are watching them," Servedio said. "My hope is that they hear that Ohioans are angry, and they're being loud and they're speaking up."

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