An arrest in the rape case of an Ohio 10-year-old makes international news as lawmakers from around the state and country weigh in. A push to keep cash payments an option and how redistricting just impacted public education.
We break down what it all means on this week’s episode of Ohio Politics Explained.
It’s a podcast from the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau where we catch you up on the state’s political news in 15 minutes or less. This week, host Anna Staver was joined by bureau chief Anthony Shoemaker.
1) Arrest made in rape case
A 27-year-old man who has been living in Columbus was arrested and charged with the rape of a 10-year-old girl who traveled to Indiana last month for an abortion.
The girl, according to the Indiana doctor who performed the procedure, was too far along in her pregnancy to terminate in Ohio following the overturning of Roe vs. Wade.
The arrest of Gerson Fuentes put an end to speculation by conservative lawmakers and media outlets about whether the case and the girl were real.
2) Reaction to the arrest
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost told Fox News that he hadn’t heard a whiff or a whisper about the sexual assault of a 10-year-old Ohio girl less than 24 hours before the man who confessed to the crime was charged.
The Republican then pivoted and said he believed she would have met Ohio’s “life of the mother” exemption because carrying a child to term at that age is life-threatening. A line of argument that was picked up by national conservatives.
An investigation by the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau found that while it is high-risk and potentially life-threatening for children younger than 15 to be pregnant, that is not always the case. And doctors in Ohio say they might recommend their minor patients still travel out of state.
3) Paying in cash
Ohioans shifted a lot of behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic and one of them was paying for purchases in cash.
Across the country, the number of businesses that switched to cash-free operations more than doubled from February 2020 to February 2021.
But one Ohio lawmaker thinks that’s a problem, both for the 5% who are unbanked and for those who like the anonymity of cash purchases.
Sen. Bill Blessing, R-Colerain Township, introduced a bill to require in-person businesses to accept dollars and cents.
4) A lesson on redistricting
Ohio’s inability to pass a set of constitutional maps for its state House and Senate districts is now impacting public education.
The 11 elected seats on the state board of education are supposed to be drawn by combining three contiguous state Senate seats. But without a valid set of Senate maps, it’s unclear whether the boundaries drawn in January are legal.
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The USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau serves The Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.