It’s a new and disturbing theme when it comes to a women’s right to choose. Suddenly, anti-abortion positions that were once considered somewhat reasonable — like exceptions in the case of rape, or saving a mother’s life, are now a sign of not being “pro-life” enough. Allowing a rape victim to end an unwanted pregnancy used to be considered one of the few humane situations for an abortion, but now it’s seen as “punishing the baby for the sins of the father.” Aborting a fetus to save a mother’s health and future fertility used to be a reasonable assumption, and now the idea of aborting a tubal pregnancy is unheard of in the Right to Life circle unless the fetus has ruptured a tube and put the mother’s life in immediate danger.
Over the last year or two, the anti-abortion position has become more and more extreme, yet it still wasn’t enough to cause a schism between anti-choice groups. Until now.
The New York Times reports on the drawn out feud between Ohio Right to Life and a Ohio ProLife Action, a splinter anti-abortion group formed by Janet Porter and her “heartbeat ban” supporters. As Ohio Right to Life refused to endorse or support the bill that would make abortion illegal from the moment a heartbeat is detected — about 4 weeks post conception — those who believed that the original Ohio anti-choice group was too timid moved off to start their own sect, as well as apply ample pressure to lawmakers to finally get a bill up for a vote in the senate.
Ohio Right to Life, fearing that the “heartbeat” ban would simply result in a costly court case that would in the end strengthen, not overturn Roe V. Wade, has refused to use their own clout to push the bill for a vote, focusing instead on the state’s 20 week abortion ban. But ProLife Action, with the support of numerous presidential candidates, has fundraised hard enough to show their own strength, airing a targeted television commercial to garner public support to pressure the legislature into ending their stall on the bill.
The bill, which has already passed the state house, will now be voted on by the senate this week, and is expected to pass. That will leave the Ohio governor, also an abortion opponent, with the task of deciding whether or not to sign the bill into law, knowing full well that it will go straight to the courts for costly legal defense.
But Ohio isn’t the only state showing a collapse behind the unified front of anti-abortion groups. Wisconsin is also beginning to splinter, in their case over a proposed push to define life at the moment an egg is fertilized. undaunted by the failure in Mississippi last month, Pro-Life Wisconsin is fighting for an amendment to declare “personhood” at the moment of conception. But Wisconsin Right to Life is not enthusiastic about the idea at all. “‘The U.S. Supreme Court has dealt with the personhood issue 23 times in various pieces of legislation regarding abortion, and every time they have rejected the notion of the personhood approach,’ [Sue Armacost, legislative director for Wisconsin Right to Life] said. ‘That would leave us with a constitutional amendment that has no teeth in it whatsoever. The real solution is that we would have a president who is going to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe vs. Wade. That’s what we have to concentrate on; (the proposed amendment) isn’t the right approach.’”
While anti-choice groups splinter over whether or not they can truly go too far when it comes to restricting abortion and giving rights to embryos and fetuses that supersede those of the women carrying them, state and national candidates sadly will continue to pander to them, simply encouraging their quest to make the extreme mainstream.
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