125. Rep. Somani on Reproductive Freedom, Gender Affirmation, and Hypocrisy in Statehouse Health Policy

Prognosis Ohio

125. Rep. Somani on Reproductive Freedom, Gender Affirmation, and Hypocrisy in Statehouse Health Policy

March 24, 2023

125. Rep. Somani on Reproductive Freedom, Gender Affirmation, and Hypocrisy in Statehouse Health Policy

On episode 125, Dan talks with obstetrician-gynecologist and State Rep. Anita Somani about abortion and reproductive rights, the impact anti-transgender legislation is poised to have on Ohio patients; and balancing life as a physician-legislator.


2:00: On being a physician and legislator 

5:30: The state budget and the stakes for social and economic policy

8:45: Abortion and reproductive health care 

14:50: The hypocrisy of bills that hurt children and children’s mental health while trumpeting support for child health

17:59: “What’s behind these bills?” 

19:56: The relationship between democratic responsiveness and health 

25:40: The wave of anti-transgender bills moving through the Statehouse: what Rep. Somani’s experience can teach us.

In the interview, Rep. Somani talks about the Heartbeat Bill and current penalties for physicians who don’t report abortions. Rep. Somani maintains, among other things, that Ohio’s infant and maternal mortality rates have gone up in direct correlation with abortion restrictions. 

In his 2023 State of the State address Gov. DeWine identified mental health and children’s needs as a major priority. However, Rep. Somani talks about the inherent hypocrisy of the bills the Ohio General Assembly has introduced — specifically HB 6, the anti-trans sports bill, and HB 51, which loosens gun restrictions — and the impact these bills will have on students’ mental health. 

Dan asks Rep. Somani about democratic responsiveness and the current assault on voting rights, including House Joint Resolution 1, which would raise the threshold needed to pass constitutional amendments on the ballot to 60%. In response, Rep. Somani reflects on the in-state support for reproductive rights and abortion rights, as demonstrated by groups collecting 7,000 signatures when they only needed 1,000 signatures to get the language certified to be on the ballot.

Read more about Rep. Anita Somani in her bio. Check out a podcast produced by the Columbus Medical Association, in which Rep. Somani talks about her first few weeks at the Statehouse.


  • Rep. Somani gives a shoutout to podcasts, from which she gets her news despite her busy schedule, whether that’s Apple News, The Daily, or local podcasts like Prognosis Ohio!
  • Dan mentions previous episodes on the COVID-19 public health emergency unwind and the current budget process, both of which are high stakes for health policy in Ohio
  • In talking about gerrymandering, Rep. Somani gives a special shoutout to Voters Not Politicians, Michigan’s redistricting independent commission. 
  • Dan mentions David Pepper, who was previously on the podcast to discuss democratic accountability, gerrymandering, and autocracy.

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Hosted and produced by Dan Skinner. Engineering support provided by Mike Foley at WCBE. Copywriting and production support by Angela Lin. Prognosis Ohio is a member of the WCBE Podcast Experience and the Health Podcast Network. Prognosis Ohio is a production of Prognosis Ohio, LLC.

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