For Immediate Release
Rick Hodges’ Confirmation to Head Health Department Puts Lives at Risk
OHIO - Today, the Ohio Senate voted 24-8 to approve the nomination of Rick Hodges to lead the Ohio Department of Health. NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio opposed 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. Now the Ohio Senate has rubberstamped Kasich’s pick, which will no doubt allow the politicization of this agency to continue.
“Hodges will be making critical decisions about whether abortion clinics will remain open, and whether our residents have access to the comprehensive medical care they need, despite the fact that he is neither a doctor nor a scientist. Unfortunately that means that the health and well-being of Ohio’s women is in jeopardy.”
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 confirmation of Rick Hodges is a huge step backward and is an assault on the rights of Ohio women by politicians pushing their personal ideologies. We insist on the appointment of qualified men and women for posts in charge of public health decisions and safeguarding the programs that keep our families safe. We demand accountability for anyone who puts partisan politics over sound public policy."
During the floor debate, State Senator Nina Turner said, "The people of Ohio deserve to have a leader who understands the decisions they are making." State Senator Tom Sawyer discussed his unsuccessful effort to convince Governor John Kasich to move Hodges to a management position and move a physician to serve as the director.
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 the state have satisfied the necessary licensing requirements, but unlike other medical providers who seemingly have no difficulty obtaining licenses, no abortion clinics 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 nation spoke out against this unqualified nominee, 1,011 Ohioans contacted their state senators and 27,034 Americans across the country signed a petition opposing Hodges nomination.
For interviews with NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, please contact Kellie Copeland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330.524.1577.
For interviews with NARAL Pro-Choice America, please contact Christina DiPasquale at Christina@fitzgibbonmedia.com or 202.716.1953.
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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."