COLUMBUS, Ohio — In the wake of several controversies involving the state's new abortion restrictions as well as the story of an alleged victim of child rape, the Ohio Democratic Party is calling for Attorney General Dave Yost to leave his position immediately.
Party Chair Elizabeth Walters held a press conference Tuesday morning to demand the Republican Yost's resignation, saying the AG "is clearly incapable of shame" following his remarks casting doubt on the story of a pregnant 10-year-old girl who apparently traveled to Indiana due to fears she could not obtain an abortion in Ohio due to the state's "Heartbeat Law." Should Yost not step down, Walters pledges Democrats are "ready to defeat him at the ballot box in November."
"He's incapable of doing the right thing," Walters, who also serves as Summit County Council president, added of Yost. "As attorney general, Yost should be looking for justice, not getting in the way of it. An apology is not enough, Dave Yost must resign."
Yost first drew backlash last month following the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade, which enabled his office to enact Ohio's long-blocked "Heartbeat Law" that bans most abortions in the state after roughly six weeks of pregnancy. A story soon emerged of a 10-year-old rape victim needing to travel to Indiana to terminate her pregnancy as she was too far along at the time, but in an interview with Fox News, Yost questioned the veracity of the report.
"There is no case request for analysis that looks anything like this," the attorney general said during a July 11 appearance on "Jesse Watters Primetime." "I know our prosecutors and cops in this state. There's not one of them that wouldn’t be turning over every rock in their jurisdiction if they had the slightest hint that this occurred there."
However, just days later, Columbus police arrested 27-year-old Gerson Fuentes and charged him with assaulting the child. Court records obtained by 3News sister station 10TV show the victim identified Fuentes as her rapist, and despite claims of wrongdoing from Indiana's AG, the doctor who performed the abortion as well as her attorney have defended her actions, and Indiana University Health has said Dr. Caitlin Bernard followed state law in reporting the child's assault to authorities.
In a statement following Fuentes' capture, Yost said his "heart aches for the pain suffered by this young child" and pledged to help with the case, if needed, but did not address his prior comments. Yost had also told Watters the girl "did not have to leave Ohio to find treatment" and later released further guidance regarding the Heartbeat Law, but critics have noted the legislation does not include exceptions for rape or incest.
"I don't think that our leaders should be setting examples like this," Dr. Catherine Ramos, an Ohio abortion provider, said at the press conference. "People should feel comfortable going to law enforcement, people should feel supported when they go to law enforcement."
Yost is seeking a second term against state Rep. Jeffrey A. Crossman (D-Parma), who on Monday claimed the incumbent AG "apparently likes to punish women/girls for coming forward."
"The Ohio Democratic Party has such little faith in its candidate for attorney general that it is resorting to throwing hail Marys, which will be swatted down by Ohio voters," Yost campaign manager Amy Natoce told 3News in response to ODP's comments.