At Greater Toledo Right to Life’s fifth annual legislative briefing breakfast Friday in Toledo, Mike Gonidakis, the president of Ohio Right to Life, and state Sen. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green) spoke to an audience of nearly 200 people, including students from area Roman Catholic high schools.
State Rep. Tim Brown (R., Bowling Green) participated from the dais during the question-and-answer period.
Mr. Gardner said, “From a legislative standpoint, the last two years have probably been the most significant pro-life legislative victories in Ohio history.”
Mr. Gonidakis said there is a “historically low number of abortions in Ohio” today, about 20,000 last year, and there are half as many abortions performed as there were at “the high point in 1981.”
Ohio Right to Life is focusing on seven items during this state legislative session, Mr. Gonidakis said. Most importantly, he said, is greater funding for community health centers, and the way to that money is to redirect federal family planning funding, moving Planned Parenthood down the list, and giving greatest priority to local health departments and other public entities that provide family planning services.
Among other legislative items, foster-care reform is important, Mr. Gonidakis said, because “upwards of 50 percent of all young women in the Ohio foster-care system end up being pregnant.”
One issue of legislative and personal concern to Mr. Gonidakis and the right-to-life movement is adoption reform. Mr. Gonidakis has two adopted children, and in his adoption experience he found “areas for improvement, I’ll put it that way, in Ohio law to streamline adoptions, make them less expensive, to make less lawyers involved.”
Domestic adoptions in Ohio “currently cost anywhere between $20,000 and $30,000 to adopt a newborn baby,” Mr. Gonadikis said later. “It makes absolutely no sense. There’s too many lawyers, too many state regulations involved. There’s not enough safeguards in there for birth-mothers, birth-fathers, or adoptive families.”
Members of the leadership in Greater Toledo Right to Life and Mr. Gonadakis’ Ohio organization live those principles. Mike McCartney, president of the Toledo association, is the father of 10; his oldest son was adopted, “and the last three came to us through the courts,” he said. Ed Sitter, the local group’s president, grew up as an adopted son.
Mr. Gardner said that sometimes an accusation is made that those who advocate against abortion are not “caring about children who are already here. Sometimes those of us on the conservative side of the aisle are painted with a brush that says we’re not caring enough, we’re not involved enough in making a difference to those who are already here, and the one issue that I think speaks to that is adoption. We need to provide alternatives to those young women who are in crisis, who have a challenge.”
He said that adoption reform “provides an alternative so that we can respect and promote life.”
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