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The Closing Volley

This is my final letter as editor of (614) Magazine. Those are among the hardest words I’ve ever had to type. I’ve always told myself that I wouldn’t stay in this seat forever, but it’s still hard to prepare for the day when “not forever” arrives at your door, leaving even someone like myself at [...]
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This is my final letter as editor of (614) Magazine. Those are among the hardest words I’ve ever had to type.

I’ve always told myself that I wouldn’t stay in this seat forever, but it’s still hard to prepare for the day when “not forever” arrives at your door, leaving even someone like myself at a loss for words.

As a little inspiration for one last Opening Volley (by my count, the 102nd), I reflected on my first one, penned June 2010:

“I’ll put my own stamp on the magazine, sure. Most likely, some of these ideas haven’t yet presented themselves to me.”

If only you knew, you big dum-dum.

I’d love to give myself points for prescience there, but how could I have known what this would all mean? How could I have known we’d last at all?

I didn’t know we’d print a story about a long-forgotten Columbus swimmer that would lead to justice for his legacy in the Wall Street Journal (Thanks, Lori Gum).

I didn’t know I’d watch my Uber driver make global news and come out of the closet on The View four months after picking me up on a random Friday (Thanks, Trey Pearson).

I certainly didn’t know that I’d win an *Emmy for the least amount of work I’ve ever done on something so cool, hosting a food show called NOSH. (Thanks, NBC).

(*Regional, and the interns always assume it’s just a prop sitting at the front desk).

I did know that when I first sat down in this chair to write this letter that I was sitting in a position that was perfectly suited for me—even though it was something I never could have aspired to back when I was starting out.

I didn’t know it would give me the most satisfying and fulfilling time of my life, a period of feverish creativity, passionate collaboration, and an intense feeling of civic pride I’d not previously enjoyed.

“What (614) will continue to do is to present Columbus as the diverse, interesting—and growing—Midwestern hub that we feel it is. To hell with that Cowtown bit.”

My thesis statement in that first letter—I called a shot I didn’t have the right to. But damn, if we—and I do mean we—haven’t helped accomplish that in this last decade. We used to have to prove that we were more than college football and chain restaurants. Now, we’re having spirited debates over the loss of cocktail bars and craft breweries.

It’s that collective effort to move the Columbus culture that fueled us at (614)—less so than the other way around. I’ll put that humility aside only long enough to say, I do think we succeeded in our goal to make this magazine stand out from the rest of the rack. If I do say so myself, we set a new print standard for those glossy city mags you see strewn about any active city. Yes, we are the city guide—this festival, that band, those food trucks—but it’s always been my hope that we could be more. It’s been my hope that we’ve been able to serve as part of the city’s conscience, and present a curation of our collective personality on display. Maybe we’ve been a guide to what life feels like in Columbus’s modern rebirth, a new outline for a city without an identity for so many decades—other than their incessant, sometimes obsessive search for one.

But, we’ve mostly been YOU. If there’s one thing I’ve been most proud of over the last 10 years and 100-plus issues, it’s that we produced an open-source document for Columbus—an approachable read that gave access to the everyday folk in Columbus. It’s always been a poorly kept secret that if you have an idea that Columbus would love, you have a spot in (614). No credentials or diploma needed. Just someone with the same passion we had. Your new editor-in-chief Jeni Ruisch has it. And I can’t wait to see her era of this funny little journalistic experiment begin.

I’m gonna miss the work like hell—I won’t lie. It’s been one of the great pleasures of my life to put this thing together. I’ll miss wondering what’s on your mind; what stories you were excited to share with and through us.

I’m not going anywhere, though. I have plans and schemes to continue to pay forward what this magazine and this city has given to me. In what capacity? I suppose I am still plotting that chapter, but as always—I’m open to Columbus’s input. In other words:

“Most likely, some of these ideas haven’t yet presented themselves to me.”

Cheers, Columbus. I’ll see ya out there.

Travis Hoewischer, Editor-in-Chief

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Govt & Politics

Op-Ed: We won battle with Heartbeat Bill block, war continues

Caitlin Horwatt

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Ohio’s controversial “Heartbeat Bill” has been ​blocked by a federal court​, just days before it was slated to go into enforcement on July 11. The ruling is a temporary win for pro-reproductive rights activists and Planned Parenthood, ensuring that abortion clinics in the state of Ohio can stay open. But, the war over a woman’s right to her bodily autonomy is only ramping up.

The law would have banned abortions in the state of Ohio after six weeks, the earliest time in a pregnancy when a fetal heartbeat may be detected and well before many women know they are pregnant. There were to be no exceptions for rape or incest, although there would be exceptions when the life of the mother was in danger. The law would have classified violations as fifth-degree felonies, carrying up to one year in jail time and up to $2,500 in fines as a sentence.

The ​halt was ordered ​by Judge Michael Barrett of the Southern District of Ohio U.S. District Court. Barrett pointed out that the bill placed an “undue burden” on a woman seeking to terminate a pre-viability pregnancy. The law was on its face unconstitutional, a blatant attempt to overturn the federal government’s long standing decision to give women the right to the decisions regarding their bodies. Conservatives have tried to limit bodily autonomy well before women had the right to abortions; however, they fail to attack problems like infant poverty and child hunger with the same veracity.

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The bill was part of a larger strategy that’s occurred nationwide at the hands of Republican lawmakers. The right to an abortion will stand nationally as long as Supreme Court rulings, including ​Roe v. Wade,​ remain in effect. By hammering out heartbeat bills nationwide, conservatives increase their chances of getting a ruling appealed up to the Supreme Court and from there the conservative-leaning court overturning ​Roe​.

Abortions are not only justified in the case of rape or incest, which has been a clickbait-inducing theme around this controversy. Abortion is a part of reproductive healthcare, a procedure nearly one in four women​ have before the age of 45. If lawmakers are so concerned about decreasing abortion rates, presumably because of a concern for the lives of the fetuses, they should fund comprehensize sex education ​and support for impoverished children already in this country.

The right to an abortion goes further than an outright ban. Strict regulations are a backdoor way to limit abortions, claiming to regulate the abortion providers for safety purposes. The state of Missouri​ famously has just one embattled abortion clinic ​still open and providing procedures, with the fight to keep the clinic licensed and running regularly boiling down to the wire in the past several months.

It is easy to move on from this debate when a new shocking headline runs about the state of politics or the crisis at the border. Wins like this, though important, cannot be accepted as permanent. As long as conservative lawmakers are proposing bills and regulations that limit abortion care, there is a battle to be fought, because we won’t go back.

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Govt & Politics

OP-ED: Heartbeat Bill will likely affect 11yo Ohio rape victim

Caitlin Horwatt

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The passage of Ohio’s recent “heartbeat bill,” signed by Governor DeWine, marks a massive and distressing win in the conservative quest to outright ban abortion. All parties supporting the bill—from DeWine to legislators and lobbyists—are well aware that the action will be blocked by courts as they uphold Roe v. Wade, which protects the right to abortion until 24 weeks gestation. We should be frightened as we explore whether their big picture goal is to get Roe v. Wade overturned by the decidedly conservative Court.

By banning abortion after a heartbeat is detected, the law prohibits abortion as early as eight weeks, well before many women know they are pregnant. Add in the already mandatory twenty-four hour waiting period between first appointment and procedure, and the likelihood of legal abortion for even a pregnancy detected early seems slim. The law is an blatant attempt to ban women’s right to choose.

The Guttmacher Institute found that ​1 in 4 women​ has had an abortion before age 45. The Pew Research Center found that ​58% of Americans support legal abortion ​in all or most cases, with polarizing views against abortion coming mostly from Republican and religious Americans. These statistics fail to depict, though, how traumatic the impact can be for women forced to carry a child to term when she does not have the means or support to do so. The law is meant to protect the fetus at a term that is far earlier than the 22 to 24 weeks at which it is viable, all at the cost of the mother.

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The bill notably does not give exceptions for cases of rape and incest, only allowing exceptions for medical necessity to save the mother’s life. This means an ​11 year-old rape victim from Massillon​ will likely have to carry her rapist’s baby to term.

Heartbeat bills do not ban abortion; they ban legal abortion. I think of a sign I saw during the 2017 Women’s March: a metal coat hanger with the words “WE WON’T GO BACK” scrawled below. The passage of this recent law achingly raises questions of whether or not we will go back.

Women who now find themselves pregnant could have their lives forever changed. Even if they choose to surrender the baby after birth, the cost of a pregnancy is astronomical and healthcare is far from a certainty in this country. If the pregnancy was caused by rape, the potential for trauma only escalates. Women will have few places to turn, with the most vulnerable unable to seek safe healthcare and the potential high for maternal deaths as part of botched abortions.

The ACLU and other organizations are already moving to challenge the ban in court. I can’t shake the looming feeling that these challenges will only play into the hands of those anti-abortion supporters, and that we may be entering the most important fight of our generation in this fight for a woman’s right to choose.

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Govt & Politics

OP-ED: ‘Red flag’ is far cry from where Ohio gun law should be

Joanne Strasser

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Last weekend, a man entered a synagogue in Poway, California armed with a rifle. The Washington Post reports that prior to him entering the place of worship, the accused shooter wrote a 7-page letter about his hatred for Jewish people. He believed killing them would “glorify God.” Below is an op-ed from one Columbus mother who believes Ohio should be taking a stronger stance against guns following of the Poway tragedy.

Even in light of this past weekend’s synagogue shooting, DeWine is still unwilling to change Ohio’s gun laws. He is, however, advocating for Ohio to pass a red flag law, which would allow law enforcement to seize guns from individuals deemed a societal risk.

This isn’t the first time the red flag law was floated in the Ohio Legislature.  In the wake of last year’s Parkland High School shooting in Florida, former Gov. Kasich backed the proposed law, which ultimately failed to gain support.

Opposition to the legislation stems from Republican lawmakers’ belief that it infringes on the constitution rights to bear arms and proper due process of law. However, 14 other states have already implemented the red flag law.

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Moms Demand Action, a national gun control organization, notes that 42% of attackers exhibit warning signs before shootings occur. And although this legislation would only be a small step in the right direction, it could help save lives.

But ultimately, statistics don’t matter to politicians, who are dependent on dollars from the gun lobby.  And until our elected officials decide that Ohioans‘ safety comes first, any measure, regardless of how small and sensible, will fail. 

Ohio Republicans need to take a long hard look at their agenda and ask themselves if it truly serves our needs. Which is more important: our children feeling safe at school or campaign contributions? 

The red flag law is a common-sense measure, and while it’s a far cry from where Ohio gun restriction needs to be, it’s certainly a start.

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