News Abortion

Two of Three “Consumer” Positions on Ohio Medical Board Now Anti-Choice Activists

Robin Marty

With only three open seats for non-doctors, the board is being loaded in one direction.

The Ohio State Medical board with be the entity that makes decisions regarding licensure of local doctors. Of the 12 members on the board, nine are doctors and three positions are open for “consumer” appointments — people who do not have to necessarily be in the medical profession.

With the appointment of Mike Gonidakis, two of those three consumer positions will now be held by anti-choice organization leaders.

According to, Gonidakis, the president of Ohio Right to Life, will join Laurie O. Elsass, a former board member of the same group, stacking the consumer side of the board with ardent foes of reproductive rights.

It’s not anything we haven’t seen before, of course. In Virginia, the appointment of new anti-choice activists allowed the state Attorney General to send back a proposed TRAP law for a re-hearing. With a newer, more anti-choice board to vote on the regulations, a clause that would grandfather in existing clinics and make them not subject to new, expensive and unnecessary updates to their buildings and operations was stripped back out of the bill, putting women’s access in jeopardy.

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Iowa also has seen a number of anti-choice appointments to the non-medication seats in their board. Republican Governor Terry Branstad angered numerous legislators by appointing Colleen Pasnick, an anti-choice activist highly involved in trying to stop tele-med abortions in the state. When the politicians refused to accept her appointment, he then appointed a Catholic priest to the board as a rebuke to the legislators who interfered.

As Jessica Mason Pieklo wrote in May, the appointment of ideologues to key positions that will oversee the implementation (or lack of it) of health care access is a growing and alarming sign of a “coordinated campaign to permanently alter the relationship between women, medicine and the law.” With the appointment of Gonidakis, that relationship in Ohio appears to be going downhill fast.

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