Contraception is not abortion. Contraception is not abortion. It seems so simple, that I don’t know why I have to say it over and over again. Yet I do, because lawmakers aren’t just refusing to believe medical professionals when it comes to that fact, they are now stating that their own opinion matters more when it comes to using the legislature to cut off access to simple birth control.
An Ohio bill that primarily is meant to attack insurance coverage for abortions in the state had an initial hearing this week, and proved that it was more than it appeared at first glance. House Bill 351 has proposed taking Ohio’s already existing law that any insurance plan either offered via the state’s health care exchange, or belonging to a public employee or person on Medicaid is not allowed to cover “therapeutic” abortions, and expand that to include “an abortion that is performed or induced when a patient is not diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy.”
Yes, that includes abortions for people impregnated as a result of sexual assault.
On its own, that in itself is extreme, as it essentially forces pregnant people already victimized once to either pay fully out of pocket to end a pregnancy or worse, if she can’t afford it, to carry that pregnancy to term and give birth despite her desire to end it.
For Rep. John Becker, the Cincinnati Republican who sponsored the bill, however, that’s not good enough. Instead, he wants to expand it to also forbid covering inter-uterine devices (IUDs), because he thinks those cause abortions, too. And regardless of how much data you provide him showing that isn’t actually true, you can’t shake him of his opinion.
When explaining that he believes IUDs stop fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus (which they don’t) and that inability to implant is an abortion (which it isn’t), Becker admits he has nothing but a gut feeling to support him. “This is just a personal view. I’m not a medical doctor,” he said, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Becker also admitted that the bill as it stands could also make it impossible for insurers to cover emergency contraception, and even basic birth control pills, since it doesn’t explicitly say it doesn’t mean those items and obviously at this point defining abortion is just “personal view” for Ohio legislators. He suggests “an amendment could be introduced to clarify that point,” rather than, say, clearly stating in his original bill that “‘abortion services’ does not include any form of oral hormonal contraception.”
Becker is following a new surge of lawmakers willing to say “Damn the facts, I want to ban birth control,” using the IUD as the starting point. In Salina, Kan., a county commissioner board refused to consider a federal grant to offer IUDs as long term reversible birth control, claiming that they were potential mini-abortions and “murder,” regardless of how many doctors said it wasn’t true.
From a legislative standpoint, they no doubt feel comfortable in their quest. After all, in 2012 Kansas passed a conscience clause bill allowing anyone to opt out of an act they might “reasonably believe” would result in terminating a pregnancy, opening up the door for anyone to reject medicine and science and simply argue that they aren’t swayed by the preponderance of evidence saying they are wrong.
Obviously, the Ohio legislature has decided that facts don’t matter nearly as much as their “personal views” do when it comes to writing the laws that affect the lives of Ohioans. With Governor John Kasich up for reelection, now might be a good time to ask him whether he signs bills based on evidence, or on his personal beliefs and, if it is the latter, whether he believes that IUDs, the morning after pill, and just plain old basic birth control pills are actually something he believes should be accessible to the people in his state.
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