CLEVELAND (WJW) – Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb released new information Monday regarding some city policies following the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the dangerous restrictions on abortion that have followed, the City is committed to protecting residents’ ability to seek the reproductive health care options that they choose for themselves,” Mayor Justin Bibb said in a press release.  

However, Ohio Right to Life says portions of the plan violate the Ohio Revised Code.

“They’re violating state law and there will be litigation and lawsuits and they’re going to lose,” said Mike Gonidakis, President of Ohio Right to Life. 

The mayor and council released a list of how reproductive rights will be protected in Cleveland.

1. Non-Prosecution 

Chief Prosecutor Aqueelah Jordan, in collaboration with Law Director Mark Griffin, have pledged that no City attorney will prosecute, refer for prosecution, or otherwise participate in charging any abortion-related crimes. 

“There will be no prosecution of abortion related crimes,” said Griffin. “When we decide how to use our resources, we’re going to prosecute violent crimes. We’re not going to prosecute health care workers.”

2. De-Prioritizing Enforcement  

Any investigation into and enforcement of criminal abortion-related charges will now become the lowest priority for the use of City resources, including personnel, time, and funds. This applies to all employees in the City’s executive branch, including the police.

While employees have a duty to uphold the law, the Mayor must also make decisions about how the City spends its limited resources. For police, job number one is keeping Cleveland safe, not prioritizing enforcement of unjust restrictions against vulnerable people. This is even more important considering that both Cleveland and Cuyahoga County prosecutors have committed not to prosecute any abortion charges that reach their desk. 

3. Reproductive Freedom Fund  

The Mayor is working together with Cleveland City Council to introduce and pass legislation to create a $100,000 “Reproductive Freedom Fund” that would cover travel, logistics, and lodging expenses for Cleveland residents and City employees seeking a legal abortion in a nearby state. This will be an essential resource that ensures all Clevelanders can get the care that they choose for themselves, even when that care is not available locally. 

“It’s not enough to have the rights, you also have to have the resources, so for women who can’t afford it we’re going to work with council to create a fund so they can go out of state to protect their health,” said Griffin.

In response, Gonidakis said, “Read the Ohio Revised Code. There’s been a law on the books for over a decade that prohibits local governments such as the city of Cleveland from using tax payer funds to pay for abortion unless it’s under very limited circumstances.”

4. City Employee Insurance 

Human Resources is exploring the City’s options for its employees’ health insurance plans, to determine whether all health insurance plans offered could cover elective abortions if an employee seeks care out-of-state. 

5. Commitment to Not Keeping Pregnancy Information 

Under the Bibb Administration, information about individuals’ pregnancy status that would identify a doctor or patient will not be exchanged except in the case of a medical emergency to treat a patient or with the patient’s consent for the purpose of treatment, payment, or health care operations. This is to ensure that this information, inadvertently or purposely kept, is not used against those individuals in the future prosecution of an abortion-related crime or to stigmatize or retaliate against them.  

The City will do everything that can be done to refrain from keeping or disclosing this information unless medically necessary or otherwise required by law to disclose for the purpose of treatment, payment, or health care operations. 

6. Representing Clevelanders at the Ohio Supreme Court 

All people and families in Ohio have been under attack since Roe was overturned, but Clevelanders face unique challenges—not just because we are the only majority-minority big city in Ohio, but because of the unique disinvestment that has plagued the City relative to its peers.

The Ohio Supreme Court is currently considering a challenge to the state law banning abortions after six weeks (S.B. 23). Ohioans’ reproductive rights are directly before the Court, and to elevate Clevelanders’ voices to the highest court in the state, the City is in the process of submitting an amicus brief (“friend of the court” brief) on its residents’ behalf in support of overturning Ohio’s six-week ban. 

“We must do everything in our power to defend a woman’s right to choose what happens with her own body – not allow government or activist judges that control,” shared Council President Blaine A. Griffin.   Mayor Bibb added, “Reproductive rights are human rights, and I am committed to protecting those rights to the maximum extent that I can.”

But Ohio Right to Life calls their willingness to disregard the law and the U.S. Supreme Court sad.

“If they choose to prosecute or not, that’s on their conscious. At the end of the day, the State Medical Board can revoke an individual’s license to practice medicine if they’re going to violate our state laws,” said Gonidakis. “For the past 50 years, Ohio Right to Life, myself disagreed with Roe v. Wade yet everyday we adhered to the laws of state of Ohio.”