LJ Cunningham

How Should the People Respond to the Undemocratic Ohio GOP?

Ohio Republicans Bill Dean, Melanie Miller, Beth Lear, and Jennifer Gross are attempting to control abortion. What do the people do about it?

Post Published: November 16, 2023

Ohio Issue 1 passed, enshrining abortion as a state constitutional right. Republican legislators have responded in undemocratic ways. Who’s behind the violent push against democracy in Ohio? How should the people respond?

Collage of Ohio representatives from top left, Bill Dean, Melanie Miller, Jennifer Gross who is standing beside Kyle Rittenhouse; and Beth Lear who is aiming a gun
Ohio Republicans Bill Dean, Jennifer Gross, Beth Lear, and Melanie Miller have a lot in common. The four recently introduced a bill overruling the judicial process for abortion; but their disdain for bodily autonomy includes more than abortion access.

What’s Happening?

Jennifer Gross (R-45, West Chester) drafted a bill less than a week after Issue 1 passed that would have the Republican-controlled General Assembly alone control legal abortion. This is unheard of; as the three branches of government exist to keep just this kind of tyranny from happening. To put this in perspective, Republican House Speaker Jason Stephens dismissed the wild move: “This is ‘School-House Rock’ type stuff,” he told reporters on November 14. Stephens concluded: “We need to make sure that we have the three branches of the government. The constitution is what we abide by.”

Screenshot of the Issue 1 Implementation Act reads in full: section 1. the ohio general assembly shall have exclusive authority over implementing ohio issue 1, the right to make reproductive decisions including abortion...all jurisdiction is hereby withdrawn from and denied to the courts of common pleas and all other courts of the state of ohio on any and all claims attempting to enforce or implement ohio issue 1. section 2. any pending or new lawsuits, claims, counter claims, third party claims, or defenses attempting to enforce or implement this issue one in any court of the state of ohio shall be immediately dismissed, and any existing court rulings to enforce or implement this Issue one shall be vacated. section 3. any violation of this act by any judge in the state of ohio shall constitute a misdemeanor in office for the purposes of article II section 24 of the ohio constitution concerning impeachable offenses. section 4. this law is effective immediately.
November 13, 2023 drafted legislation proposed by West Chester Republican Jennifer Gross, RN. Image courtesy @AndrewJTobias/X

Who Are The Main Republicans Attacking Abortion?

Jennifer Gross

Image from Ohio House of Representatives of Repbulican Jennifer Gross
Image from Ohio House of Representatives of Republican Jennifer Gross

Jennifer Gross is a registered nurse. In a move questioned by colleagues, Gross had former physician Sherri Tenpenny testify on behalf of her bill banning vaccines, making international headlines. Tenpenny has since had her medical license suspended.

Gross has moved on. She is co-sponsor of six of the nine current transphobic bills in Ohio, in addition to drafting the Issue 1 Implementation Act. Each transphobic bill gives the Ohio General Assembly control over specified diagnoses and treatments to healthcare and dictates K-12 and college-level curriculum. Along the way, Gross posted a photo of herself with acquitted killer Kyle Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse is a white supremacist sensation after opening fire on three Black Lives Matter protestors in Kenosha, WI in August, 2020. He was acquitted in November, 2021 and is free. This August, three years after the killings, Republican Jennifer Gross is beaming beside him with Banners for the National Association for Gun Rights as a backdrop.

Ms. Gross recently had a pastor pray over the Ohio Statehouse, discriminating publicly against “witchcraft” in the chamber.

Beth Lear and Melanie Miller

white woman with dark shoulder length hair, presumably Beth lear, holds shotgun aimed upwards with trees in background. From Beth Lear's LinkedIn
From Ohio Republican and co-sponsor of transphobic legislation Beth Lear’s LinkedIn
Image of Melanie Miller from her profile in the Ladies Gallery on the Ohio dot gov website. She's a white woman with bright red lipstick, shoulder length blonde hair, wearing a red top with collar and gold elephant pin
Ohio Republican Melanie Miller is co-sponsor of transphobic and anti-abortion legislation

Beth Lear (R-Galena) said about Issue 1 passing: “No amendment can overturn our God-given rights with which we were born.” Lear is champion of multiple transphobic bills, like House Bill 183. This bill dictates who uses what bathroom in all K-12 schools and colleges.

Melanie Miller is alumni from Cleveland State University, where she reportedly spent time on campus as a youth pastor before being crowned Mrs. Ohio on her way to the Ohio Statehouse. Ashland Pregnancy Center, where Melanie Miller is listed as Executive Director on their website, is co-sponsor of at least three transphobic bills in addition to the refusal to accept Issue 1’s election results. Miller’s husband Matt is Mayor of Ashland, Ohio. The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) interviewed Miller this May about abortion and trans rights. Known for television programming such as the 700 Club, CBN is a multimillion dollar a year charitable organization focusing on Christian ideals in media.

Miller, parroting other Republican anti-trans legislators, made statements about concepts that don’t exist, such as “gender therapy” and “parents’ rights.” Likening licensed, educated professionals to “groomers” or people coaching youth to express specific behaviors, such as gender identity, is too damaging to be ignored.

Bill Dean

Bill Dean is co-sponsor to HB 68 and the Issue 1 Implementation Act. He also co-sponsors HB 245, incorrectly equating drag to pornography and banning it. Earlier this year, Dean denied trans people humanity while stating:

smiling with man showing teeth with a suit and tie and white hair. he's wearing a pin on his lapel that says OHIO
Republican Bill Dean cosponsors transphobic legislation that would give the GOP controlled legislature control over education and all forms of healthcare related to trans existence.

“Why is it always men that want to go into the women’s restroom? And I know the answer to that because I’m a man. It’s obvious why it’s happening: Because they’re a bunch of perverts,” Dean said while arguing for House Bill 183. 

Representative Dean made it to Vanity Fair last year after being quoted saying the following about birthing parents and infant mortality rates:

“Pregnancy is a natural thing that women are made for. That’s the way God made them. The myth is that it is dangerous; it’s no more dangerous than living every day… I’m not a physician, but I would imagine, a lot of times, it’s the lifestyle of the lady that’s having the pregnancy. We also have the most obese people in the whole world. It’s just individual cases.”

Dean, along with Gross, are also co-sponsors for Ohio’s “don’t say gay, don’t say race” bill. Ohio House Bill 327 bans “divisive concepts” and honest education in classrooms in matters of racialized people and historical fact.

The Ohio GOP vs. the People

Ohio would no longer be a democratic state of the union if all the above proposed legislation were to become law.

Ohio House Bill 68 alone would dictate how mental health and medical professionals practice. Initially introduced as House Bill 454, the bill has grown in taking more power from more public spheres than it began with. Beginning with dictating treatment and outlawing lifesaving gender-affirming care in medical, educational, and mental-health settings, the so-called Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act (SAFE) now includes family court. This means that divorced or never-married couples sharing custody have unequal rights in the eyes of the law under this legislation–favoring parents who refuse life saving, gender-affirming, language.

These racist, discriminatory, bills don’t speak for the people. Sadly, the Ohio GOP assault on bodily autonomy and human rights doesn’t stop at abortion. Democratic colleagues who refuse to censure or otherwise stop these undemocratic bills enable the Ohio GOP. Legislation in name only, these bills all make a mockery of the democratic process and the ideals on which the United States stands on.

The attacks on trans rights is nearing 2 years in Ohio. Attacks on abortion have spanned my whole adult life, increasing in the last decade.

What Can I Do?

Sign my petition demanding transphobic and anti-abortion legislation be stopped immediately.

If you are passionate about abortion and less well-read on trans legislation, start here. This is the national anti-trans legislation tracker. Also know that gender-affirming care saves lives. Banning it is inhumane and undemocratic, and Republicans always link anti-trans bills with anti-abortion bills.

Tell your State Representative about your concerns regarding the Issue 1 Implementation Act. Consider reaching out regarding concerns about transphobic bills, too. Use this link for handy access of every single sponsor and co-sponsor of all nine transphobic bills. LET THEM KNOW WHAT YOU THINK.

Follow, donate, and stay connected to legal, safe, abortion with Abortion Fund of Ohio.

Find your state Representative here .

Sign up for my regular posts to keep up-to-date on concerning Ohio legislation.


Ashland Pregnancy Care Center

Media coverage on transphobic HB 183 here and here.

Cleveland State University 

More about Gross’s failed “Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination Act”


Schoolhouse Rock, Three Branches of Government

person holds a sign reading we demand democracy
Image courtesy Fred Moon/unsplash



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