Local abortion foes celebrate overturning of Roe v. Wade

·4 min read
Two decades after they met at an abortion protest, Ted and Nancy Ryan celebrated Friday's overturn of Roe v. Wade outside the Planned Parenthood office in Mansfield.
Two decades after they met at an abortion protest, Ted and Nancy Ryan celebrated Friday's overturn of Roe v. Wade outside the Planned Parenthood office in Mansfield.

It was two decades ago that a pretty woman caught the eye of Ted Ryan at a recurring abortion protest in downtown Mansfield.

"We were each going on a different night," Ted explained.

She was a widow, and he a widower. Eventually, they found themselves picketing Roe v. Wade at the same time. They quickly bonded over the issue, and eventually married.

"We just really cared about the abortions," Nancy Ryan said. "All of these millions of babies just being slaughtered. We really wanted to speak up for them."

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Friday morning, the couple returned with about two dozen others to the Planned Parenthood at 384 Park Ave. W. in Mansfield to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade.

"We've prayed together for 20 years to bring an end to it," Nancy said. "Now, there's a chance that these babies can have a life of their own and be accepted as human beings."

'This sends it to the states'

In a 6-3 decision Friday, the nation's highest court ruled there is no longer a federal constitutional right to an abortion and that abortion rights and restrictions will be decided by the states.

But later Friday

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As of Friday afternoon, abortion remained legal in Ohio up until 20 weeks of pregnancy.

That was one of the biggest reasons Greg Jevnikar wanted to make sure the group of abortion opponents was visible in Mansfield on the day of the historic Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling that abortions are not constitutionally protected.

"This sends it to the states is what it does," Jevnikar said.

Nearly two dozen people gathered through the day to commemorate Friday's overturning of Roe v. Wade outside the Planned Parenthood office in Mansfield.
Nearly two dozen people gathered through the day to commemorate Friday's overturning of Roe v. Wade outside the Planned Parenthood office in Mansfield.

Later on Friday, however, federal court Judge Michael Barrett lifted a nearly three-year injunction on what is called the "heartbeat bill," making abortion illegal once a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

"Hopefully abortion will be abolished here in Ohio," Jevnikar said. "This is not the end."

'Made in the image of God'

The group of of abortion foes call themselves Protect Life Ohio, and they've been waiting for what they have been calling "Decision Day" since a draft copy of the court's ruling was leaked in early May.

Members of the group come from across North Central Ohio, and some have been rallying against abortion for more than 30 years.

The protests at Planned Parenthood every Saturday have become almost iconic to everyone who lives near Mansfield.

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"We have some who drive by and give us the middle finger," Jevnikar said. "And we get a lot of thumbs up, too."

Events like the ones in Mansfield, he said, have kept abortions in the news for the past five decades.

"After 49 years, we've finally made the right decision," Jevnikar said. "They've corrected an egregious error. People are made in the image of God, and we've been spitting in his face."

'I have eight children, so that kind of tells you'

One of the longest tenured members of the Protect Life Ohio group has been Barbara Riley.

"I started a group at St. Peter's and headed it up for 10 years," she said.

Surgeries and a lack of transportation have slowed her down in recent years, but that hasn't kept her from writing letters on the issue over the years.

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"It's been worth it if I can convince just one person to change their mind after reading it," Riley said. "I'm very pro-life. I have eight children, so that kind of tells you."

The celebration on Friday was nice for her to attend, but she was quick to remind everyone in attendance that it "was only step one."

She hopes legislation is passed in Ohio that will permanently outlaw abortion statewide.

'I hate what happens when they kill a baby'

Until then, education is one of the group's priorities.

"They think abortion is so safe," Nancy Ryan said. "It never is. Thousands of women have died from perforated uteruses from the act of abortion. Not to mention that over 60 million unborn babies have died."

The group has partnered with Richland Pregnancy Services to offer alternatives to abortion for women who have an unexpected or unwanted pregnancy.

"We have prayed with some young people that have stopped and talked to us," Nancy Ryan said.

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The responsibility of purchasing and using birth control has been a point they have tried to explain to those who might disagree with their views.

"I don't hate the people in there," Ted Ryan said of Planned Parenthood. "I hate what happens when they kill a baby. We're all sinners that need Jesus for our forgiveness."

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This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: Local abortion foes rally outside Planned Parenthood