For Immediate Release
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio: Rick Hodges’ Confirmation to Head Health Department Puts Lives at Risk
OHIO - Today, the Ohio Senate Medicaid, Health and Human Services Committee is expected to approve the nomination of Rick Hodges to lead the Ohio Department of Health. The nomination now moves to a floor vote in the Ohio Senate. NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio opposes the confirmation of Hodges, as his experience fails to meet the minimum qualifications as stipulated under the Ohio Revised Code (section 121.10), and released the following statements:
Said Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio:
“Governor Kasich couldn’t find a qualified medical professional willing to continue his regulatory witch-hunt against abortion providers and family-planning clinics, so he appointed Rick Hodges, a political operative who does not meet the legal requirements for the position, to be his new hatchet man. Kasich’s nomination of Rick Hodges to lead the Ohio Department of Health indicates that the politicization of this agency will continue.
“Make no mistake: the health of Ohio women hangs in the balance. The director of public health will be making critical decisions about whether our residents have access to the comprehensive medical care they need. We will hold state legislators responsible for who they entrust with this responsibility and Rick Hodges is the wrong choice for this position.”
Said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America:
"A majority of women across the nation have said over and over that politicians have no place interfering in their private medical decisions. That includes impeding their access to preventive care, birth control, and their right to safe and legal abortion care. By nominating an unqualified candidate to green-light increasing anti-choice restrictions, Governor Kasich will torpedo his own presidential ambitions.
“The appointment of Rick Hodges would be a huge step backward and essentially rubber stamp the assault on the rights of Ohio women by politicians pushing their own personal biases. We insist on qualified men and women to lead on public health decisions and to safeguard the programs that keep our families safe. We will demand accountability from anyone who puts partisan politics over sound public policy.”
The last state budget limited funding for family-planning providers and gave the Ohio health director unprecedented powers in the licensing of abortion providers. Abortion clinics across Ohio have satisfied the necessary licensing requirements, but none have received a license renewal. Ohio remains at risk of losing every abortion provider in the western half of the state.
Pro-choice advocates in Ohio and across the national are speaking out against this unqualified nominee, 642 Ohioans contacted their state senators and 15,229 American (including 1,261 people from states bordering Ohio) signed a petition opposing Hodges nomination.
NARAL Pro-Choice America and its network of state affiliates are dedicated to protecting and expanding reproductive freedom for all Americans. NARAL works to guarantee that every woman has the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion. In recognition of its work defending our constitutional right to choose, Fortune Magazine described NARAL as "one of the top 10 advocacy groups in America."