State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) recently testified in the House Health and Aging Committee on House Bill (HB) 132—or the Ohio Prevention First Act—legislation that seeks to prevent unintended pregnancies by offering comprehensive, abstinence-inclusive sexual health education for teens and ensure greater access to contraception.
“By providing young adults with responsible sexual education, we can not only prevent unintended pregnancies, but educate those on the health risks of unprotected sex,” said Lepore-Hagan. “Adolescents will engage in sexual activity whether we acknowledge it or not. It is important that we provide them with the necessary tools to make informed decisions when it comes to sex and contraception.”
In 2014, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancyreported that Ohio has the 28th highest teen birth rate and unplanned pregnancy rate in the nation. This demonstrates a greater need for effective and accessible sexual education, as well as contraception. This legislation seeks to prevent health insurance companies from limiting or excluding coverage for FDA-approved prescription contraception, as well as require pharmacies to dispense any prescribed drug, device or over-the-counter medication in stock without delay and with respect for all customers.
“The Ohio Prevention First Act will also ensure that pharmacies provide access to contraception without bias or discrimination,” continued Lepore-Hagan. “I acknowledge the position of those that believe this law will infringe on their religious principles, and—whether one agrees or disagrees with the use of contraception—it is important to maintain that each individual has the right to make their own decisions regarding the use of contraception. We must enact policies that protect women’s reproductive rights and provide Ohioans with the resources to plan for healthy, thriving families on their own terms.”
In addition, this legislation will establish the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Task Force, made up of government officials, health practitioners, and members of the community such as parents and teens, to better educate Ohioans about pregnancy prevention. HB 132 also requires the Department of Health to keep their website updated with accurate information on emergency contraception, and ensure that sexual assault victims have access to emergency contraception, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections in all hospital emergency rooms.
Yesterday was the first hearing of the bill, which needs to pass both the House and Senate to become law by the end of this year. Similar legislation has been introduced in the past two General Assemblies.
Democratic lawmakers today called on the Governor John Kasich to recognize the devastating opioid addiction epidemic for what it is: a public health emergency. At a statehouse press conference this morning the lawmakers said the state must have a strong, unified response and release emergency state funding to combat the statewide opioid crisis that is claiming lives in rural areas and urban centers alike.
“The first step in any road to recovery is admitting that you have a problem, and it’s time for the administration to recognize the opioid addiction crisis as the public health emergency that it is,” said Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron). “Too many Ohio families are losing loved ones to drug addiction and overdoses. We must marshal all available state resources and attention to fight back against this rapidly growing threat to our communities.”
State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron), today responded to Gov. John Kasich’s Thursday comments at the Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative and the state’s actions to combat the opioid epidemic. The governor’s optimistic comments came on the same day the Ohio Department of Health released the report on 2015 Ohio Drug Overdose Data stating fentanyl-related drug overdoses more than doubled from 2014 to 2015. And the numbers continue to climb. For July 2016, Summit County alone experienced an estimated 395 overdoses, which matched the total number of overdoses in the county for the four months prior combined.*
“State leaders still refuse to call the opioid epidemic what it is: a public health crisis,” said Johnson. “It is imperative we remain hopeful and positive, but only if we are also employing all available resources to the law enforcement officers and treatment providers on the front lines. There has yet to be a coherent, statewide response to this devastating public health crisis that is killing more Ohioans than ever before. Summit County is doing a tremendous job at treating and preventing overdoses in my district, but with greater funding and direction from the state, we could be doing far more.”
State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) today announced a new plan to assist struggling communities hit hardest by Governor Kasich’s budget cuts and tax shifting policies over the past several years. Since taking office, Gov. Kasich cut over $1.7 billion in local community funding. Over 70 cities have lost at least $1 million each year due to Kasich’s budgeting and tax decisions, and 12 small cities have lost at least $2 million each, per year.
Ohio House Democratic members hosted a press conference today to speak out against the recent attacks on women’s access to healthcare. Led by State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron), the lawmakers introduced a package of bills aimed at securing and expanding women’s access to comprehensive healthcare services.
WATCH Rep. Johnson deliver her powerful closing above.