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Outraged Democrats say Rep. Schmidt's comments calling rape an "opportunity for the woman" are an insult to survivors of sexual violence across Ohio

April 27, 2022
Tavia Galonski News

COLUMBUS –Today, Minority Whip Jessica E. Miranda (D-Forest Park) and Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) issued a statement voicing their outrage after Rep. Jean Schmidt made several appalling and insensitive comments about rape during House Bill (HB) 598’s hearing, her “trigger” ban legislation that would completely eliminate access to abortion in Ohio with no exceptions should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade. When Ranking Member Rep. Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester) asked why HB 598 includes no exceptions for people who become pregnant after being raped, Rep. Schmidt argued that rape is, “A shame when it happens, but an opportunity for that woman, no matter how old or young she is, to make a determination about what she’s going to do to help that life become a productive human being.” Rep. Schmidt then proceeded to say that a rape victim should be forced to carry the fetus, no matter the emotional, mental or physical trauma. 

“Rep. Schmidt’s comments were incredibly disrespectful and insulting to survivors of sexual violence across Ohio, myself included,” said Rep. Miranda. “It is despicable that Republicans continue to give a platform to extreme anti-abortion bills that put the lives of Ohioans, especially women and survivors of rape and incest, in danger, but refuse to do anything to ensure justice for sexual assault survivors. We need to protect women and survivors, not rapists and pedophiles.”

“I was appalled by Rep. Schmidt’s comments during her testimony today,” said Rep. Galonski. “To suggest that rape is anything but a traumatic, horrific event is insensitive and diminishes the anguish that impacts a survivor for the rest of their life. Pregnancy and childbirth are often traumatic and dangerous on their own. To then force a survivor of rape to carry a pregnancy to term and go through childbirth is utterly vile and only adds to the trauma they have already suffered.”

Reps. Miranda and Galonski are sponsors of House Bill (HB 266), which would eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for rape, extend the period for civil action by a victim of sexual abuse, and eliminate the spousal exception for rape. 

Ohioans and Democrats have repeatedly called for hearings on this legislation to protect survivors of sexual violence, but have been ignored by the Republican majority.  

Rep. Miranda has also spoken out about her own personal experiences as a survivor of sexual assault in an effort to build solidarity and spur action on legislation to reform Ohio’s outdated rape code. 

HB 598 does not include any exceptions for rape, incest or protecting the health of the mother. The national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5% per rape among victims of reproductive age (aged 12 to 45); among adult women, an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year.

HB 598 currently awaits further hearings in the House Government Oversight Committee.