How committed are Republican politicians to the war on women? So committed that they are refusing to take any feedback from constituents, preferring sneak attacks and cutting off all ability for response.
Nowhere is this more clear than in Ohio, where numerous reproductive health bills have flooded the legislature of one of the most economically bedraggled states in the country. Rather than attempt to revive the job market or improve economic conditions, the state has instead considered or passed numerous anti-abortion restrictions, from ultrasounds to 20 week bans and even an attempt at limiting abortion at as little as 28 days post conception.
Voters have responded with disbelief, asking their lawmakers to set aside the anti-abortion agenda and focus on the budget deficit.
Now, the politicians have done exactly that — sneaking a last minute ban on abortion into a budget bill that could severely limit a woman’s access to an later term abortion. And to make matters worse, they are hiding, rather than defending themselves.
According to Forbes, the last minute ban to allow public hospitals to provide abortions, and that will deny any public funding from being used for abortions except in the case of rape, incest or life of the mother, constitutes the first time abortion has been injected into an Ohio budget bill in over 30 years. The hospital ban is especially onerous as a hospital is one of the primary places a women would go to receive an abortion if she had a medical issue, and would cause a public hospital to have to evaluate whether or not it truly believes the condition is life threatening or risk breaking the law. For women who learn that they are carrying babies that are incompatible with life, they would be forced to leave the state or look for a private hospital, regardless of if that is where their doctor is affiliated, greatly increasing the costs of the procedure.
Kellie Copeland, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio states, “”Without knowing every woman’s situation or why she is considering abortion, these politicians are proposing a budget amendment that would take away that option even if her health is at risk or when a much-wanted pregnancy goes terribly wrong.”
Sneaking the restrictions into a budget bill, especially when they have little to no cost implications for the state, make it clear that the anti-choice movement wants to hide their agenda without being forced to defend their actions. But even more cowardly, once they introduced the new amendments, they shut off their phones to avoid any blowback.
“They wait until there is no opportunity for public testimony and then they turn their phones off,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.
The abortion-rights group alerted supporters after learning from The Dispatch and other reports about proposals to ban abortions in facilities that receive state money. It urged supporters to contact Senate President Tom Niehaus to protest, but Copeland said their calls went straight to voicemail.
“Obviously this was by design. They’ve been working on the budget for months,” she said. “If you are proud of what you are doing, you do it in an open way. They know what they are doing, and it’s shameful.”
Insert restrictions on a legal procedure into a budget bill rather than address the fiscal crisis, then refuse to answer to the constituents who complain? Just another day in the war on women.