Work ‘has just begun,’ Ohio anti-abortion advocate says after Roe overturned

Michael Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, has been working toward the goal of overturning Roe v. Wade for more than a decade. On the day when federal protections for abortion have been overturned, he joins Amna Nawaz to discuss the need for a robust social safety net in his state, where an injunction was just lifted on its six-week ban.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And for an even closer look at how this decision impacts Americans and how organizations are responding on the ground, we turn to Amna Nawaz.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    That's right, Judy.

    We will get two perspectives.

    I'm joined first by Michael Gonidakis. He's president of the group Ohio Right to Life. He's been with the organization for more than 14 years.

    Michael, welcome to the "NewsHour." Thank you for making the time.

    There have been people working towards this decision for 50 years. You have been working towards it for 14. Just help me understand, what is this moment like for you?

    Mike Gonidakis, President, Ohio Right to Life: It's historic.

    Never in my lifetime did I believe it would come to this. And here we are today. And we have a monumental task ahead of us. Our work is not done. It's just begun. We need to ensure that we have the greatest social service safety net here in the state of Ohio to help all women, especially women who find themselves in an unintended pregnancy.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Let me ask you about that work ahead and your resources there, because women in Ohio, like a lot of women around the country, lived through a pandemic. They were disproportionately affected when it comes to work force participation.

    I saw, in Ohio, rental prices have been soaring, like they have been everywhere else. We're living with record inflation. How — you're a nonprofit. How can you support these women? Do you have the funding and resources you need?

  • Mike Gonidakis:

    Well, we don't, as an organization, to help every single woman in Ohio of course, but we do have our tax dollars through the legislature and our governor, who's pro-life as well, Mike DeWine.

    And what we have done from budget upon budget is find extra dollars or take dollars that we currently have and send them to help with WIC, help with SNAP help with different programs that help women, whether it be for prenatal care or your own health care. We supported Medicaid expansion in Ohio and still do today.

    We think every woman should have access to a doctor no matter what. And we believe, if we continue these commonsense approaches at our city, county and state level, the resources are there to ensure every woman who finds themselves with an unintended pregnancy will have everything they need to have a healthy baby and raise their child or place their child for adoption.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    You're confident those resources are already there or they will be there?

  • Mike Gonidakis:

    They all are — they are already there. We have a $7 billion rainy day fund too. And every — and our coffers are full. And we are spending the money now.

    Our governor continues to provide extra money for women, for diapers, formulas, for parenting classes and the like. And he's doing a great job.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    We had mentioned too in Ohio the governor back in 2019 signed a so-called heartbeat bill, right, to effectively ban abortions around six weeks or so. It's been held up in a court. It's likely to go into place.

    But, even with that, if a woman in Ohio becomes pregnant, she can still travel out of state. She could still order in medication abortion. How does your group approach that?

  • Mike Gonidakis:


    And we're in a new frontier here. We're dealing with issues that we're seeing for the first time here. Of course, there is no law, nor will there be a law that would restrict someone's ability to cross state lines for any reason whatsoever.

    I will tell you, on the heartbeat bill breaking news. The federal judge just lifted the injunction. So, 10 minutes ago now, the law in Ohio is the heartbeat standard as of 10 minutes ago.

    And as it relates to mail-order prescriptions, we can't regulate the Internet at this time, of course, not a state or the federal government. So we're going to have to sit down and tackle these issues together as a nation, as a state, on how we ensure that women aren't ordering unsafe drugs from China or Mexico or wherever else.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Well, let me ask you about that briefly in just a few seconds.

    We know outlawing abortion doesn't end abortion. How worried are you women will turn to increasingly dangerous means to end pregnancies?

  • Mike Gonidakis:

    Well, we think, with the right type of care that I have spoke about already and ways, whether it be our church or it be other types of opportunities to help women and demonstrate to them that they have the care they need, the health care, the prenatal care, in every county, all 88 counties of Ohio, that they're going to have that access, and it's there today.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    That is Mike Gonidakis. He's president of the group Ohio Right to Life.

    Michael, thank you so much for your time.

  • Mike Gonidakis:

    Thank you.

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