Ohio Republicans’ attempted erasure of a 10-year-old rape victim is incredibly sick and disturbed

The first and most important thing to recognize right now is that a heinous, violent crime was committed on a 10-year-old Ohio child, and thankfully justice has now found the alleged perpetrator.

A Columbus man was indicted Wednesday in a case that made national and international headlines about a10-year-old girl who had to travel to Indiana for an abortion after Ohio’s abortion ban went into effect following the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

The story is horrifying and tragic. She has experienced enormous trauma. My heart breaks for her, and I’m very grateful to all the hard-working professionals out there providing her and her family assistance in what must be a truly awful time.

Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and his spokesman responded to the story by ignoring questions about whether children should be forced to have their rapists’ babies. Then DeWine allies contacted members of the press, asking how sure they were that the case of the pregnant 10-year-old even happened.

The Washington Post, the conservative Daily Caller and other media outlets published stories saying that the case was unverified. The Wall Street Journal Editorial page suggested the story was a “fanciful tale.” The National Review’s Michael Brendan Dougherty referred to the case as “a fictive abortion and a fictive rape.”

Republican Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost went on Fox News Monday to raise further doubts.

Hamilton County Republican Party Chair Alex Triantafilou on Twitter called the case, “A garbage lie that a simple Google search confirms is debunked.”

State Rep. Brian Stewart tweeted the Washington Post story saying he “wouldn’t trust an abortionist to tell me whether the sky is blue.”

Ohio U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan tweeted, “Another lie. Anyone surprised?

The propaganda erasing this 10-year-old’s existence was so swift it spread out over right-wing social media like a blanket. Those advocating the truth of her story—privately and devastatingly already confirmed for some of us—were subjected to wild-eyed mockery and ridicule.

It’s incredibly disturbing that the default position of so many sick and twisted people—including Ohio’s most prominent Republican elected officials—is to very vocally and very publicly question whether the rape and impregnation of a 10-year-old child ever happened.

This case was never implausible. In 2020, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 52 girls aged 14 and younger had abortions in Ohio, according to the state department of health. A review of just the city of Columbus’ police log since March 15 uncovered 59 reports of sexual assaults of girls 15 and younger that, based on the information available, could have resulted in pregnancy.

Nevertheless, the wheels and integrity of local journalism spun and uncovered the truth, with the Columbus Dispatch breaking the news of confirmation of the case.

But after the confirmation broke Wednesday, DeWine’s spokesman, Dan Tierney, again refused to comment on whether child rape victims should be forced to carry their pregnancies to term.

Ten-year-olds who become pregnant are by definition rape victims. But Ohio’s abortion law signed by DeWine doesn’t make exceptions for rape and incest.

Yost’s office didn’t respond Wednesday when asked whether he believes child rape victims should be forced to carry pregnancies, nor whether it was important to believe stories about sexual violence. Instead he put out a statement applauding the arrest.

Yost offered no correction, no apology, and showed no contrition for going on national television to try to erase the lived experience of a child rape victim.

DeWine, Yost, and other Ohio Republicans hurt a traumatized child once by forcing her to flee the state in order to receive health care; then they hurt her again by peddling propaganda erasing her; now they’re hurting her a third time by refusing to acknowledge and apologize for their actions.

These powerful Ohio Republican politicians have thoroughly and completely shed themselves of any sense of shame or conscience.

They’re disgusting and disgraceful; callous, careless and cruel.

This is a matter of basic human decency, good faith and sensitivity on the most fundamental level of society.

If they are willing to try to erase the trauma of a 10-year-old rape victim, whose pain and suffering will they not try to ignore and erase?

They behave on a base level so repugnant and removed from the general good-heartedness of most Ohioans it’s almost unfathomable.

I honestly don’t know how they sleep at night, or look at themselves in the mirror in the morning.

Ohio Capital Journal is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Ohio Capital Journal maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor David DeWitt for questions: info@ohiocapitaljournal.com. Follow Ohio Capital Journal on Facebook and Twitter.

Ohio Republicans celebrate Pride by creepily bullying female athletes and trans people

Transgender people — especially transgender people of color — have been leading the activist charge toward LGBTQ+ equality since the beginning, literally throwing the first bottles at the Stonewall riots.

And since the beginning, they’ve been the most victimized. They remain so, and Ohio Republicans have devised a savagely creepy, abhorrent way to target and victimize not just trans people, but all female high school and college athletes, by moving legislation with a “verification process” of checking the genitals of those “accused” of being trans.

As many have noted, right-wing extremists who like to accuse others of grooming children are proposing to subject minors to genital inspections at the mere accusation of being transgender.

This is obviously incredibly dangerous, unconstitutional, and flooring in how glaringly stupid and poorly thought out it is.

Nevertheless, the bill was amended into other legislation and passed by the Ohio House 55-28 late Wednesday evening last week, on the first day of Pride Month.

Only one transgender high school athlete who would be impacted by the law is currently registered in Ohio with the state high school athletic association. The association already has a policy in place and opposed the bill as unnecessary.

So one transgender high school athlete in Ohio — one person out of roughly 400,000 young athletes — is being targeted and bullied out of high school sports by Ohio House Republicans.

Now, Republican Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman says his chamber will take up its own trans sports ban proposal that includes that same genital inspection language in lame-duck session after November’s election.

These proposals victimize and attempt to villainize an already vulnerable minority, not to solve any real issue, but for cynical political point-scoring.

In essence, these politicians are saying that exploiting anti-trans hate is more important than acknowledging trans people’s basic humanity. Needlessly provoking more discrimination, violence, intrusion, and hate against trans people to score political points is more important than trans people’s very lives.

And this is a matter of life and death. Trans youth are already at far greater risk of suicide, and studies keep showing anti-trans legislation exacerbates their mental health issues.

After anti-trans legislation was introduced in the Texas House last year, the LGBTQ crisis line The Trevor Project received a 150% increase in calls from Texas youth compared with the year before, with many citing the anti-trans legislation as the cause.

In 2018, the University of Texas at Austin led one of the most ambitious studies on transgender youth aged 15 to 21 to gauge the state of their mental health. Earlier studies already demonstrated that 82% of transgender people experience suicidal ideation, and 40% attempt it in their lifetime, and the rates are higher for trans teens.

The UT Austin study found trans youth who were able to simply go by their chosen or affirmed name and pronouns experienced: 71% fewer symptoms of severe depression, a 34% decrease in suicidal ideation, and a 65% decrease in suicide attempts.

A study released earlier this year found that gender-affirming care for youth was linked to 60% lower odds of moderate or severe depression and 73% lower odds of suicidality.

But, of course, the Ohio General Assembly is also moving a law to restrict gender-affirming care for youth.

The Trevor Project launched a poll last year to investigate the impact the nationwide deluge of anti-trans legislation was having on the youth: 85% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported that the debates around these laws have negatively impacted their mental health.

Driving public policy with this intentional wedge issue at the expense of children and their mental health is pretty despicable bullying at the hands of grown adults, and it encourages a lot more bullying.

But of course, this is their way, isn’t it?

They will give teachers guns, but ban books. They will scream “my body, my choice” when it comes to life-saving vaccines to protect communities from a ruthlessly deadly pandemic, and then force pregnancy and birth-giving for victims of rape and incest. They will holler about their religious “right” to discriminate against others, but scoff at others’ rights to be free from their religious discrimination and dogma.

Their ethos is: Nobody gets to tell me what to do, and I’m free to live as I like; but I get to tell others what to do, and they are not free to live as they like.

This is the mentality of abusers, bullies, and supremacists.

As Ohio classical music composer Frank Wilhoit famously put it, it’s a worldview that consists of exactly one proposition: “There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.”

They will howl about the importance of their own freedoms while ripping freedoms away from others, and never see the blatant self-contradiction.

How is this possible? Because of the fear-based hysteria in their “in-groups” versus “out-groups” mental construction: Their freedom matters; yours does not.

People with such contempt, such loathing, such a lack of empathy, and such bottomless cruelty for anyone unlike themselves, are defiling their positions of public trust. They are the shame of Ohio.

Ohio Capital Journal is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Ohio Capital Journal maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor David DeWitt for questions: info@ohiocapitaljournal.com. Follow Ohio Capital Journal on Facebook and Twitter.

Ohio Republicans throw temper tantrum as attempts to cheat with gerrymandering shot down

It takes a real dirtbag sensibility to claim the Ohio Supreme Court demanding districts align with the Ohio Constitution voters overwhelmingly amended that actually represent Ohioans’ political preferences and still give your party a majority is somehow the real gerrymandering.

Nevertheless, that’s what we’re seeing from many Ohio Republican Statehouse politicians confronted with the possibility they may have to finally actually compete in competitive elections.

The childish temper tantrum being thrown by Ohio politicians upset they’ve been stopped from cheating their way into reelection with rigged districts is sadly completely unsurprising.

This is what happens when people who never face accountability are actually held accountable.

Just because the Ohio Supreme Court won’t let them get away with cheating, the politicians who keep trying to cheat don’t get to complain now about election calendar disruptions when they could’ve just acted constitutionally from the beginning.

First, we need to go over the history. Ohio Republicans have controlled redistricting since the 1990’s, and since the 1990’s they’ve stacked the deck in their favor, more egregiously with each passing decade. In 2015, more than 71% of voters amended the Ohio Constitution to snuff out gerrymandering of state House and Senate districts, and nearly 75% did so again for U.S. Congressional districts in 2018.

Instead, this fall, Ohio Republicans gave voters more supermajority gerrymandering of the Ohio House, more supermajority gerrymandering of the Ohio Senate, and absurdly disproportionate continued gerrymandering of Ohio’s U.S. Congressional districts.

Maps were proposed to the commission that actually represent the 54-46 Republican to Democratic political split of Ohioans, as averaged over 16 partisan statewide elections, directly mirroring the 1.9 million to 1.6 million Republican to Democratic registered voter split of Ohioans.

GOP leaders instead awarded themselves more supermajorities, with a House breakdown of 62 seats to 37 Dems, and 23 to 10 in the Senate, according to their own figures. Dave’s Redistricting App projected a 65-seat GOP supermajority in the House. Meanwhile, Republicans in the state legislature passed a congressional map along party lines that awarded themselves a 11-2 GOP-to-Democratic map with two potential toss-ups.

The Ohio Supreme Court declared these efforts unconstitutional gerrymanders and ordered them to be redrawn.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission returned to work this winter and produced a second map, based on their original gerrymandered map, and once again it passed along partisan lines, this time with Republicans giving themselves a 57 GOP to 42 Dem split in the Ohio House, and a 20 GOP to 13 Dem breakdown in the Senate.

In the House, 12 of the “Democratic leaning” seats in the GOP plan were tossups, with a Dem favor of only 50-51%. All of the GOP-leaning seats favored Republicans by more than 52%.

On Monday, the Supreme Court struck down this second attempt as well.

“The (Ohio Redistricting Commission’s) choice to avoid a more proportional plan for no explicable reason points unavoidably toward an intent to favor the Republican Party,” the 4-3 majority wrote in its ruling.

This is when the childish hysterics began.

Even though the deciding vote came from Republican Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, GOP politicians whined of a “liberal” court, not standing up against gerrymandering, but somehow trying to enforce Democratic gerrymandering.

That might be a line that sells to unthinking rubes, but anybody paying attention knows that at no point did either Democrats or anti-gerrymandering advocates offer a map that would give Democrats a majority in either chamber of the General Assembly or U.S. Congressional districts.

In fact, all maps offered by Democrats and independent groups preserved the GOP’s majority, and the court itself cited the same 54/46 partisan split of Ohioans statewide election results bear out.

The infantile GOP response to the court can be summed up thusly: How dare you hold us accountable for trying to cheat. By not letting us cheat, you’re gerrymandering yourselves!

Fair, competitive maps are not gerrymandering. Acting in bad faith to produce imbalanced maps that maximize every advantage possible for your party and maximize every disadvantage possible for the opposition party, that’s gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering pushes politicians to extremes, denies voters their voice, opens the door to corruption, radicalizes political discourse, kills compromise, and disintegrates democracy. Gerrymandering poisons everything.

Politicians who would gerrymander themselves to victory in rigged districts are not acting in good faith. They’re afraid of competing on a level playing field in a general election. Why? I don’t know.

Maybe they’re more comfortable appealing to their rabid base than they are to the broad general electorate that actually comprises all Ohioans and all of their constituents.

Maybe they’re more comfortable knowing they can get away with doing whatever they want without ever facing any accountability because their primary voters will just keep returning them to positions of public trust no matter what corruption goes down on their watch.

Whatever the case, it doesn’t really matter because Chief Justice O’Connor has stood up for the American Republic despite them. And of course, now she’s facing calls for her impeachment because of it.

Vying to replace her, as she is prevented by age from running for reelection, is Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy who dissented in the rulings and would’ve allowed GOP politicians to cheat voters every four years ad infinitum.

Elections really do have consequences, and this whole spectacle in many ways is Ohio’s last stand for fair elections.



Ohio Capital Journal is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Ohio Capital Journal maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor David DeWitt for questions: info@ohiocapitaljournal.com. Follow Ohio Capital Journal on Facebook and Twitter.

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Ohio Republicans introduce congressional map heavily favoring GOP

Statehouse Republicans introduced a newly drawn map for Ohio's districts in U.S. Congress Monday night that maintains a firm GOP majority.

While amendments are possible, the map is poised to pass out of a Senate committee Tuesday with a full Senate session to follow, and House sessions planned for Wednesday and Thursday.

Data behind the map were not made available Monday evening for full analysis, but it appears to show two safely Democratic seats based in Cleveland and Columbus and a majority of others being solidly Republican or leaning Republican and one district that could be a toss-up.

That district is one of three splitting Cuyahoga County, including the southwestern portions of it in a district with all of Medina County and Akron in Summit County.

Hamilton County is also split into three districts, with all of Republican Warren County connected to the city of Cincinnati and an eastern portion of the county included in a district that stretches east out to Meigs County. The map also takes a chunk out of central Hamilton County for a district that stretches along the western Ohio border from Butler up to Darke County.

While the center of Franklin County in the map would be a safely Democratic seat, outlying areas in a C-shape along the northern, western, and southern portion would be included in a Republican-leaning district that stretches westward to Clark County and southward to include Clinton, Fayette and parts of Ross County.

The map combines Montgomery County with Greene County and the central part of Clark, creates a district that stretches from Trumbull and Mahoning counties down along the Ohio River on the eastern border to Washington County, and puts Toledo and Lucas County in with Defiance, Williams, Henry, Fulton, Ottawa, Sandusky and Erie counties.

Statehouse Republicans claim the map presents seven competitive districts and noted that it keeps seven of eight of Ohio's largest cities whole while dividing only 12 counties.

On Twitter, a number of Statehouse Democrats panned the proposal.

Without bipartisan support, Republican legislators could vote through four-year maps. Any maps will have to be approved by Gov. Mike DeWine. If four-year maps go through, court challenges are likely.

State legislative maps passed in September by the Ohio Redistricting Commission are currently before the Ohio Supreme Court after three lawsuits were filed against them. The court has four Republicans and three Democrats. Republican Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor ruled against Ohio's current maps in 2012, and is considered a possible swing vote.

Ohio Capital Journal is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Ohio Capital Journal maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor David DeWitt for questions: info@ohiocapitaljournal.com. Follow Ohio Capital Journal on Facebook and Twitter.