The Ohio State Medical Association Political Action Committee has withdrawn its endorsement of Republican Marisha Agana, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, because she compared President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong.
That led Agana, a Howland pediatrician, to resign from the OSMA, which has about 20,000 Ohio physicians, medical residents, medical students and medical practice managers as members.
Agana attracted national media attention after posting a Twitter message on Aug. 5 that read: “History has a way of repeating itself,” and listed the four names.
Later that day, she tweeted: “the Blood of thousands of unborn children r in his hands.......” And the next day, wrote, “I am sorry if I made a poor choice of analogy, but I was referring to his pro-abortion stance!”
Explaining her tweets, Agana posted on her Facebook account that she is “100 percent against abortion,” and that’s “why I put national leaders that believe in and support abortion into a special group of leaders who have either committed or supported genocide.”
In an Aug. 15 letter to Agana, two officials with the association’s PAC, wrote: “During a time of extreme political discourse and hate” the organization “took great concern in the tone of these messages. We are disappointed in your choice of words used in those comments as well as the tone of your follow-up remarks.”
The organization also doesn’t take a position on abortion.
The two officials wrote that there was a request to reconsider her endorsement and asked her for a further explanation.
In Agana’s Aug. 29 response, she wrote that she was “disappointed that my position on abortion seems to offend some doctors of the organization.”
As she did on Facebook, Agana wrote to the PAC board that “anyone who supports abortion as a national leader belongs in the same group” as Hitler, Stalin and Mao “who have committed mass murder and genocide.”
Agana added: “I have done everything in my power to make it clear that I have not accused nor would I accuse President Obama of committing genocide, but I believe in my heart that supporting the act of abortion, President Obama as a national leader indeed supports genocide.”
Two days after her response, the PAC officially withdrew its endorsement of Agana and isn’t endorsing her or Ryan, a Democrat from Niles seeking his sixth two-year term in the U.S. House.
On Wednesday, Agana resigned from the OSMA saying she “cannot continue to be part of an organization that does not uphold the individual freedoms of its members, in particular, the freedom of speech.”
Agana added that it is “repulsive and disingenuous for the OSMA board to claim to represent” medical professionals when it chooses to restrict a member’s “thought or speech.”
Agana said she’s received support from those in the medical community.
“I believe you’re right to stand on your convictions and follow your heart,” wrote Kari Mancuso, Summit County Medical Society’s executive director, to Agana in a Wednesday email.
The Trumbull County Medical Society is upholding its endorsement, she said, and other doctors are interested in raising money for her campaign.
Wiley Runnerstrand, Ryan’s campaign manager, declined to comment Friday.
Ryan and Agana are running in the new 13th Congressional District, which largely consists of the currently 17th, including most of Mahoning and Trumbull counties. The boundaries were changed through redistricting and take effect after the November general election.