Editorial Roundup: Ohio

Columbus Dispatch. July 4, 2022.

Editorial: With most abortions banned, Ohio must do more for help parentless kids

With the future of legal abortion here in doubt, Ohio will have to step up efforts to make sure children born to parents who did not want them receive the support and care needed to thrive.

Anything short of that would be an insult to life itself.

There has been increased attention on the possible fates of children that result from unwanted pregnancies and the role the child warfare sector will play since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Ohio’s six-week abortion ban — popularly known as the Heartbeat Bill — became law.

Will child welfare be overwhelmed?

Some experts predict the Supreme Court decision and will cause the state’s child welfare safety net to be even more strained due to more unwanted children born and needing to be placed for adoption or into foster care.

— There were 20,605 abortions in Ohio in 2020, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

— There are currently 3,330 children — 279 in Franklin County included — available for adoption in the state, according to the Department of Job and Family Services.

— Roughly 16,000 Ohio children are in foster care on any given day, says the Adoption Exchange Association, a non-profit funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau. That number has grown by more than 30% in the last decade.

— There are more than 407,000 children in foster care nationwide and more than 117,000 awaiting adoptions.

Abortion rights advocates have vowed to fight on for reproductive freedoms. Ohio’s abortion clinics are suing to restore access, arguing that the state’s constitution goes farther than the U.S. Constitution in protecting health care choices like abortions.

Planned Parenthood locations are still providing abortion up to six weeks where no fetal cardiac tone is found.

Regardless of the outcome of the abortion provider’s lawsuit, indications are that it will be all but impossible to beat back some form of an abortion ban with Ohio’s anti-abortion-controlled General Assembly.

What will Ohio do?

If an abortion ban is to be the law of the land here, it will be even more important that the state double down on efforts to support child warfare services agencies some of which have experienced challenges with foster parent retention and pay.

What will lawmakers do?

What are individual Ohioans going to do?

Will we change our attitudes about kids who need parents?

A change in mindset about children in foster care and those awaiting adoption is long overdue. The deck is stacked against far too many kids.

Sixty-seven percent of Americans believe every child is adoptable, but only a fraction have very seriously considered adoption or fostering a child.

That’s according to the 2022 U.S. Adoption Attitudes Survey conducted by Harris Poll for the Dublin-based Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

Most of those who would adopt or foster prefer kids younger than five years old. Most believe older kids must be in foster care because they are bad seeds.

In a discussion with the Dispatch Editorial Board about the Harris Poll survey conducted several weeks before the Supreme Court decision, Dave Thomas Foundation President and CEO Rita Soronen said attitudes about foster children, teenagers in particular, are and have been beyond troubling.

The 2022 survey found that the percent of those who thought children in foster care were juvenile delinquents has risen slightly since 2012.

“This is the story for me, the majority of Americans — 51% of Americans — believe children are in care because they’ve done something wrong, because they’re juvenile delinquents,” she said. “We ascribe a fault to these children when nothing could be further from the truth. This is where the barrier occurs for teenagers — particularly teenage boys — in getting them adopted. For some reason we have this image of too old, too damaged, too dangerous.”

Based in Columbus and created by Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas in 1992, the Dave Thomas Foundation focuses exclusively on foster care adoption.

Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, the foundation’s child-focused recruitment program, has resulted in more than 1,431 foster care adoptions in Ohio since 2012 as part of a partnership with the state.

According to a five-year study conducted by Washington-based Child Trends, the project’s model is three times more effective at serving older youth, sibling groups and those with special needs.

Many of these kids would otherwise be on the so-called “emancipation track” to age out of the foster care system.

Nationwide, 20,000 kids age out of care each year when they turn 18 or, in some states, 21.

It is no wonder.

According to the Harris Poll, nearly 60% of those who would not consider adopting a teen said it would be hard for the child to be integrated into their family.

Another 51% said they wouldn’t adopt teens because teens are already too set in their ways.

Soronen said foster youth pay real consequences for our misinformed thinking.

“We have failed 20,000 children year over year over year,” she told our board. “What we know is children who leave foster care without a family — not because they’re bad kids, but because they don’t have the safety net of family — are at intense risk of negative consequences because they can’t make a mistake, because they can’t stumble at age 18, because they can’t lose a job or have the car break down.”

Soronen said children who age out of foster care have a higher risk of being homeless, undereducated, unemployed and early parents.

“Not that early parenting in itself is a bad thing, but if you don’t have that safety net, a family around, it becomes problematic,” she said. “Not only is it the right thing to do to assure a family for every child, but frankly for communities, for cities, it’s the economically right thing to do because the cost of aging out of care are profound — in the billions of dollars each year for this country.”

It is on lawmakers and the rest of us to make sure that all children born in this state are properly care for and given a shot.

That’s the only way to really be pro-life.

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Toledo Blade. July 6, 2022.

Editorial: A successful state educational program

Sometimes state government actually improves life in Ohio.

It’s so rare that when it happens we should note the achievement and celebrate the success.

The case in point is the July 5 Blade story on the Maumee and Sandusky school districts. They met credentialing standards required to teach up to 60 hours of college-level courses to high school students. That allows students to earn associate degrees at Bowling Green State University. It’s part of the Ohio College Credit Plus program. It provides a great opportunity.

Since the program began in 2015, high school, or in some cases, junior high school students, have saved $883 million in university tuition.

In 2021, 76,000 Ohio high school students were taking college courses worth $158 million in tuition.

Most often the courses are delivered online. But nearly 40% of the college-level course work is taught in the high school by high school teachers, who’ve taken extra hours of professional development training.

Meeting the requirements to teach enough college coursework for an associate degree is why Maumee and Sandusky now have the ability to hand their graduates a high school and college diploma at commencement.

All students benefit from the extra training and verified performance from their high school faculty. Bowling Green State University benefits from a flow of students seeking to build upon their two year degree.

The impact of the College Credit Plus program is astounding.

In Lucas County 21% of high school students are taking at least one college course. The Early College High School-ECHS program between the University of Toledo and Toledo Public Schools is life changing. Nearly half the participants are racial minorities, and 60% are economically disadvantaged. State education department statistics show 95% of the high school students taking courses on campus at UT earn credit for the course and average a 3.46 GPA.

Some of the other education-department statistics are applause worthy. More than 60 percent of the Whitmer High School students are taking a college class, nearly half earn three credits by graduation. The percentages of students taking university level course work is high around the region and the state.

As a final feather in the cap of Ohio’s CCP program, enrollment in high school advanced placement classes has increased by 40% since 2010.

It appears that Ohio high school students are willing to challenge themselves with tougher coursework to prepare for the CCP program.

Across Ohio, the 3.33 GPA turned in by the early college students’ shows the overwhelming majority are capitalizing on the opportunity.

That can only be good news for our collective future.

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Elyria Chronicle-Telegram. July 6, 2022.

Editorial: The consequences of abortion crackdowns

To get a sense of how much has changed in Ohio since the fall of Roe v. Wade, consider the plight of a 10-year-old girl who made national headlines over the weekend.

Three days after the U.S. Supreme Court upended nearly 50 years of precedent in abortion law, the girl was six weeks and three days pregnant, The Indianapolis Star reported.

Thanks to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s swiftness in persuading a federal court to lift a stay on the Buckeye State’s “Heartbeat Bill,” the girl no longer was eligible to obtain an abortion in Ohio.

The law, signed in 2019 by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who, like Yost, is a Republican, bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. That’s usually around five or six weeks, and often before many women know they’re pregnant. The law contains no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

In the case of the 10-year-old girl, an Ohio doctor specializing in child abuse contacted a colleague in Indiana for help, and the girl was soon on her way to the Hoosier State, The Star reported.

That such a trip was necessary likely made an already traumatic experience even harder.

Things might get even worse soon.

Indiana’s GOP-dominated General Assembly is coming back for a special session later this month to consider a full abortion ban.

The Ohio General Assembly, likewise controlled by Republicans, also is looking to ban abortion.

Already there’s one such bill in the legislative pipeline. Introduced by state Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland, earlier this year, it was designed as a “trigger law” that would have immediately banned abortion in the event Roe was overturned.

Schmidt’s bill contains no exceptions for rape or incest, and it would only allow abortions when the life of the mother is in danger under limited circumstances. Even that exception is murky thanks to the bill’s convoluted language.

In a radio interview last week, Schmidt said that she anticipated that the bill would pass following a hearing or two when the General Assembly reconvened in November.

Schmidt also suggested that companies that help their workers seek abortions out of state could face legal repercussions thanks to a provision in the bill that would make “promoting abortion” illegal.

Republicans in other states are examining ways to prevent women from traveling out of state to obtain abortion services, so it wouldn’t come as a shock if Schmidt or some other Ohio Republican attempted to do the same here.

Such bills might take the form of allowing private citizens to sue those who help residents of states with abortion bans leave the state to avail themselves of legal abortions elsewhere, The Washington Post has reported. The Department of Justice has warned that such laws would violate the rights of Americans to engage in interstate commerce.

Imagine the pain such a law would have inflicted on those trying to help that 10-year-old girl.

Many pro-life Republicans have struggled to explain their abortion absolutism when confronted by hypothetical questions about forcing child victims of rape or incest to give birth to their assailants’ babies.

Schmidt, for instance, rightly found herself facing nationwide condemnation in April after being asked about how a pregnant 13-year-old rape victim should be treated.

“It is a shame that it happens, but there’s an opportunity for that woman, no matter how young or old she is, to make a determination about what she’s going to do to help that life be a productive human being,” she said.

The 10-year-old is not a hypothetical victim. She’s a real person who could have been forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term if the draconian restrictions Schmidt and other extreme pro-life politicians want to impose on women were law.

Nor did Schmidt seem inclined in the radio interview to draw the line at making abortion illegal when it came to imposing her worldview on others.

She sounded open to accepting Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ invitation to attack other privacy rights. Among his proposed targets were birth control and same-sex marriage.

“That’s another issue for another day and I’m going to have to listen to both sides of the debate,” Schmidt said when asked about banning contraception. She gave a similar answer when asked about same-sex marriage.

That Schmidt would even consider such intrusions into Ohioans’ private lives should worry us all.

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Sandusky Register. July 9, 2022.

Editorial: Doctors call for action

At least you know where they stand.

More than 1,000 Ohio doctors made it clear this week that they oppose government intrusion when it comes to women’s reproductive rights and the doctor-patient relationship. They signed onto a “Letter of Dissent” declaring their opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Roe is the decision the High Court made in 1973 that granted women the Constitutional right to their own reproductive health, including abortion services. The decision by this court last month — that since the U.S. Constitution doesn’t include the word “abortion” it cannot be a right guaranteed — is obviously political.

The Ohio doctors who signed the letter of dissent see that, it seems clear. But they also are experiencing deeper concerns for what this political decision means for patients and their families, in general, and for women in particular. Their letter makes strong arguments and it is a demand for action to protect women’s rights.

“It has become painfully clear that women are now losing bodily autonomy, basic human rights and access to life-saving medical care,” the letter of dissent states.

The high court’s decision, according to the letter, removes a woman’s right to, and access to, legitimate medical care.

“We stand steadfast in our support for the sanctity and privacy of the patient-physician relationship. Withholding treatment until a preventable medical emergency occurs is antithetical to our roles as healthcare workers. A government that takes away the freedom of women to access critical medical care and threatens physicians with criminal penalties for upholding their oath is un-American.”

Women should not be required to answer to the government for the personal medical decisions they make in consultation with their doctors, the letter states.

“No explanation should be required for a choice that allows a woman to enjoy the same status in society as a man: freedom to preserve her health and wellbeing,” it states.

We are compelled to observe that these professionals — more than 1,000 as of Wednesday — are the frontline providers of medical services to women and to families. We are compelled to acknowledge their expertise on this topic is beyond ours, beyond yours and it is beyond the same arguments, pro and con, that we all have listened to for the last 50 years.

It also seems likely to us that this letter of dissent is not something generated by those same political, moral or religious positions on either side. Rather, the sentiments and the demands in it are something these men and women, as scientists, as practitioners, as medical professionals, were compelled to write about and support.

Their view, in our view, is compelling.

END