Democratic Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez on Tuesday picked up a national endorsement from a women's organization in her quest to become mayor of Toledo, introducing abortion as an issue at a time when Toledo could become the only large Ohio city without an abortion clinic.
“Anita Lopez brings years of public service experience and an incredible work ethic to the table,” said Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily’s List, in a news release. “She has already demonstrated her outstanding commitment to the people of Lucas County as auditor, where she provided tax relief for citizens. Anita’s experience as an effective leader makes her the right choice to create jobs and bring a responsive government to the mayor’s office."
A spokesman for the group declined to say how specific the group was in interviewing Ms. Lopez about her support of abortion rights.
Toledo is on the verge of losing the last of two abortion clinics because neither was able to obtain an emergency transfer agreement with a local hospital, a requirement under state health regulations. Capital Care Network of Toledo could close its doors within the month.
Toledo’s other abortion clinic, Center for Choice, closed in June for similar reasons.
Ms. Lopez is on the Sept. 10 primary ballot, along with Mayor Mike Bell, an independent; Democrat City Councilman Joe McNamara; independent Councilman D. Michael Collins; independent city employee union president Alan Cox; Libertarian retired city finance worker Michael Konwinski, and Democrat-turned-Republican Opal Covey, who says she is a “prophetess of God.”
Emily’s List calls itself the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, and has raised more than $350 million to support female Democratic candidates who support abortion rights. The group says its endorsement gives Ms. Lopez access to its network of 2 million members.
The group is calling 2013 “Year of the Woman Mayor” and says Ms. Lopez is the ninth mayoral candidate it has endorsed. Also endorsed is Nan Whaley for mayor of Dayton. Ms. Lopez would be Toledo's first Latina mayor and its second female mayor, after Republican Donna Owens, who served from 1984 to 1990.
Andrew Grunwald, spokesman for Mr. McNamara, said, “We are very proud of our strong women supporters such as [2012 Democratic 5th District Congressional candidate] Angela Zimmann and [Democratic former Secretary of State] Jennifer Brunner.” He said Mr. McNamara supports abortion rights.
Diane May, a spokesman for Ms. Lopez, said she is honored by the group's endorsement. She declined to detail the content of the Emily's List questionnaire Ms. Lopez completed in her application for the endorsement. She said Ms. Lopez supports abortion rights.
“Anita is opposed to any actions that limit access to reproductive health care for women. As mayor, Anita will engage in discussions with all parties, to ensure that Toledo area women have the ability to make the best health care decisions for them and their families,” Ms. May said.
When Ms. Lopez was asked over the phone about the endorsement, the line went dead. Ms. Lopez could not be reached for comment afterward.
Mr. Collins indicated that he does not support abortion, but said that he would enforce the law, if the law is allows abortions.
“I'm a practicing Roman Catholic and so the tenets of my religion define my position on abortion. As mayor, my oath of office is no different than the oath I currently hold and that is I will follow the law,” he said.
He said the issue of the abortion-clinic transfer agreements is not a responsibility of the mayor.
Mr. McNamara and Ms. Lopez are Catholics and active church-goers.
Mayor Mike Bell's spokesman, Jen Sorgenfrei, did not immediately respond to a request from The Blade for Mayor Bell's position on abortion.
Staff writer Arielle Stambler contributed to this report.