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Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb announces policies to protect abortion rights; pledges city won't prosecute abortion-related crimes

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb has announced new policies following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

CLEVELAND — One month after the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade, striking down the nearly 50-year legal precedent guaranteeing the right of legal abortion in the U.S., Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb has announced new policies relating to the matter.

Reaffirming his "unequivocal position that abortion is a form of reproductive health care and access to abortion is a human right," Bibb made six announcements aimed at protecting reproductive rights in Cleveland. Headlining the announcements is a pledge from Chief Prosecutor Aqueelah Jordan and Law Director Mark Griffin "that no City attorney will prosecute, refer for prosecution, or otherwise participate in charging any abortion-related crimes."

RELATED: Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley pledges not to pursue charges for abortion patients, providers

“With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the dangerous restrictions on abortion that have followed, the City is committed to protecting residents’ ability to seek the reproductive health care options that they choose for themselves,” Mayor Bibb said in a statement.

The six announcements are as follows:

1. No prosecution: No city attorney will charge or prosecute any abortion-related crimes.

2. De-Prioritizing Enforcement: All investigations and enforcement of criminal abortion-related charges will now become the lowest priority for city resources, including personnel, time, and funds.

"While employees have a duty to uphold the law, the Mayor must also make decisions about how the City spends its limited resources," the release reads. "For police, job number one is keeping Cleveland safe, not prioritizing enforcement of unjust restrictions against vulnerable people. This is even more important considering that both Cleveland and Cuyahoga County prosecutors have committed not to prosecute any abortion charges that reach their desk."

3. Reproductive Freedom Fund: Mayor Bibb and City Council are working to pass legislation to create a $100,000 “Reproductive Freedom Fund." The fund would be used to "cover travel, logistics, and lodging expenses for Cleveland residents and City employees seeking a legal abortion in a nearby state."

A key question will be: How will the money get into the hands of citizens and employees? Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin says those details are still being worked out.

"Those are things we'll actually determine from an administrative process," he told 3News' Neil Fischer. "It's my guess that the health department and others in my conversations will be taking on that task."

4. City Employee Insurance: Human Resources is examining options for city employees' healthcare plans "to determine whether all health insurance plans offered could cover elective abortions if an employee seeks care out-of-state."

5. Commitment to Not Keeping Pregnancy Information: Information regarding individuals’ pregnancy status that would identify a doctor or patient will not be exchanged, with the only exception being in the case of a medical emergency to treat a patient or with the patient’s consent for purposes of treatment, payment, or health care operations. 

The information will remain private in order to "ensure that this information, inadvertently or purposely kept, is not used against those individuals in the future prosecution of an abortion-related crime or to stigmatize or retaliate against them."

6. Representing Clevelanders at the Ohio Supreme Court: The City of Cleveland is currently in the process of submitting an amicus brief to the Ohio Supreme Court on its residents’ behalf in support of overturning Ohio’s six-week ban.

Cleveland's leaders say the priority is to stay committed to support women's health in the city. 

“As we hear about more and more extreme measures being considered at the state level, my administration will continue to look at all possible options—executive, administrative, legislative, and from the bully pulpit,” Mayor Bibb said. “Reproductive rights are human rights, and I am committed to protecting those rights to the maximum extent that I can.”

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