Ohio’s Anti-Choice Republicans Are Gambling on the Supreme Court to Restrict Abortion Access

Ohio’s extremely conservative legislature is on a tear: Within days of the election,the House pushed though an anti-abortion bill so onerous that it wouldeffectively ban abortion.

And the state didn’t stop there. Legislators scheduled hearings on another bill that would criminalize abortion, potentially threatening patients and providerswith the death penalty.

Here’s where things get extra bizarre: Ohio’s new legislature sits in January, but these aren’t your average lame duck bills being rammed through in the hopes of pushing a policy agenda before new lawmakers take office. The 2019 legislature will be working under a governor more conservative than outgoing leader John Kasich, who’s already vetoed an abortion bill similar to the one the house just passed.

So what the heck is Ohio doing with this stunt?

The first bill is what’s known as a “heartbeat bill,” barring abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detectable. The anti-choice movement is fond of leaning on the idea that a heartbeat makes the developing fetus morally equivalent to a living person.

Whether you believe that or not, because the heartbeat can be detectable as early as six weeks, this bill would effectively make abortion completely inaccessible. After all, six weeks gestation is just two weeks late on your period — so early that most people don’t even know they’re pregnant at that time. Missing a menstrual period by a few days shouldn’t be cause for panic and a frenetic dash to the doctor’s office for a pregnancy test sensitive enough to detect an early pregnancy.

If this bill passes the Senate as well, Governor Kasich seems likely to veto it — and the legislaturewill be forced to vote on an override. Any legislation that dies under Kasich dies with him, with lawmakers needing to reintroduce the bill if they want the incoming governor to sign it.

Of course, they could wait just a few weeks until they have a governor more favorable to their extremist agenda, but Republicans say they don’t care.

They’re bolstered by the fact that there are enough Republicans in the legislature to override a veto if they vote in a block, making it critical for Ohio voters to communicate with their legislators about this bill and make their opinions heard; it represents a significant threat to bodily integrity, privacy and the ability to practice medicine — three things reasonable conservatives should be worried about.

The second bill, which is just receiving a hearing, not a vote, is even worse, classifying fetuses as “unborn humans” and classifying abortion as a crime that could incur penalties like jail time or capital punishment. The broad language of the bill also could set pregnant people upfor tragic and dangerous collisions with the law, as in the case of people who miscarry and are referred for prosecution. Miscarriage is unfortunately very common, and it happens through no fault of the pregnant person — but getting treatment for it is critical.

Bills like this have a chilling effect on patients who need medical treatment in the aftermath of miscarriages. This bill likely won’t make it to a floor vote, but the hearing is clearly designed to send a message that state lawmakers view fetuses as morally equivalent to human beings. And legislators want to push through personhoodbills to make that view law, rather than a matter of personal opinion.

These extremist bills are terrible enough on their face, and they would be dreadful for pregnant people in Ohio, as well as the people who care for them. What’s really disturbing, though, is that these bills are clearly being advanced right now in an effort to set up for a challenge toRoe v. Wade.

That’s not just speculation: Ohio lawmakers are openly admitting thisin a state where accessing abortion is already extremely difficult and lawmakers clearly want to make it impossible.

If such a challenge went before the presentSupreme Court, there’s a very real risk that the conservative justices could uphold laws like the one in Ohio, destroying decades of work to affirmatively protect abortion access.

Take Action!

Banning abortion increases the probability that pregnant people will risk everything to terminate an unwanted or dangerous pregnancy. Ohio residents deserve better, and so do people across the U.S. who could be harmed by the fallout of this legislation. If you agree, please add your name to this Care2 petition.

Creating a Care2 petition is easy. If you have an issue you care deeply about, why not start your own petition? Here aresome guidelines to help you get startedand soon the Care2 community will be signing up to support you.

Photo Credit: Becker1999/Flickr

79 comments

Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan H8 days ago

thanks

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan B9 days ago

Christine, you are right, pro-life is strictly anti-abortion, just like pro-choice is strictly pro-abortion. These two terms sprang up almost immediately after Roe v Wade. The more broad-based life movement is the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), which supports those issues. Incidentally, this groups predates Roe v Wade by a few years, and opposes actions that terminate life (abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, etc.) and supports actions that enhance life. By the way, the NRLC has been singled out as the main obstacle to passage of this bill. While semantically there does not appear to be much difference between pro-life and right to life, in practice there is a huge divide, as pro-life is strictly a single issue stance.

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Karen Swenson
Karen S9 days ago

@Barbara B--I absolutely agree with you!! The only reason they are so passionate about the unborn is because they do not have to do one damn thing for them. As soon as they are born, watch them run faster than Trump out of a Mensa Convention!

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Barbara B
Barbara B9 days ago

Maybe they should spend time taking care of the hungry families in their state now and start planning on how to house, feed, clothe and educate unwanted children in the future.

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Olivia M
Olivia M11 days ago

Thank you

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Christine Stewart

"Pro-life" is anything but. They are strictly anti-abortion. The same people who claim they are pro-life are usually the ones who scream the loudest to cut food stamps for pregnant women and their children, and tell nursing women to go into a restroom to feed their babies...

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan B11 days ago

Karen S.,
Your last post was spot on. I can agree with everything you said. Oftentimes these a debate (argument) with someone with vastly differing views can be eye-opening for both participants.

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Karen Swenson
Karen S11 days ago

@Dan B-----I do not consider Trump inferior because he disagrees with me, I consider him inferior, because he is inferior and he proves it every day. I do not consider you, Danny, inferior to me, just because you and I disagree about almost everything. In spite of that, I respect your beliefs and I like you, even tho I think you are almost always wrong. I think we both can agree (shock) that just because we disagree and fight sometimes, (I like fighting, or disagreeing with you) doesn't mean we hate each other, or I hate you, like some people think when I disagree with them.

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Dave fleming
Past Member 11 days ago

TFS

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Dan B
Dan B11 days ago

Karen S.,
No, it is no easier. Their practices may have even been more destructive in the past. If course the slingshot effect of going from one extreme to the other and back again, may be even worse. My comment was more about considering someone inferior, just because they disagree with me. If that were the case, then all politicians would be moronic I some way.

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