Ohio’s Multi-Pronged Attack on Reproductive Rights


(Cross-posted from VeritiesandVagaries)

Oh, Ohio, you’re breaking my heart.  For a couple years there, things were really looking up in my home state: we elected a smart, sensible governor in 2006, went for Obama in 2008, and were generally looking positively blueish, or at least respectably purple.

This November put a stop to all that, and now that Republicans are back in charge of, well, everything, surely they must be Getting Stuff Done.  Much like the national GOP, Ohio Republicans ran and won on promises to get the state economy back on track and, you know, JOBSJOBSJOBS.  Awesome.  Where are the jobs?

What’s that?  What’s that you say?  You say you have some pressing business to attend to first, over in the realm of restricting women’s bodily integrity and reproductive decision-making?  Oh, sure, that makes sense, I’m sure you’ll get to the jobs AFTER you conclude the important work of stomping all over women’s rights.  Yessirree, Ohio lawmakers didn’t want Mike Pence et. al. to keep all the woman-hating fun to themselves.  In fact, one of the scariest things about the eroding of abortion rights is how much of the eroding goes on at the state level– and how little most people notice.

Connie Schultz, columnist at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, takes on the topic this week, pointing out that already this legislative session, SIX bills to restrict abortion rights have been introduced.

The only jobs I see coming out of this bait-and-switch will be the ones held by lawyers hired to challenge the constitutionality of any of these bills signed into law.

The bills run the gamut from banning all abortions after 22 weeks (this one, charmingly enough, introduced by a Democrat) to banning all abortions after 20 weeks (so that Republicans can claim the Democrat who introduced the first bill is still not pro-life enough?).  Then there are the two bills making it harder for minors to obtain abortions.  Of course there’s the health care related bill, because heaven forbid any woman get any health insurance coverage for a LEGAL MEDICAL PROCEDURE she might need.

And lastly, there’s the “the whole point of this legislation is to challenge Roe v. Wade” bill, which would ban abortions as soon as the fetus has a heartbeat–which can be as early as 18 days into pregnancy, before many women even realize that they’re pregnant.  Lest you think I’m being hyperbolic about the Roe challenge, here’s what one of the authors of the bill, Janet Folger Porter, has to say about it:

We don’t bury people with beating hearts, because the heartbeat is a sign of life. We are just applying that same measurement to this end of life and I believe the court is going to recognize — just like it does with life at the other end of the spectrum — it’s going to recognize this line of life early on. [emphasis added]

The only upside here is that this bill has sparked dissension among the anti-choice community, because unlike Folger Porter, some people recognize that the Supreme Court actually might not “recognize this line of life”– and as the executive director of Ohio Right to Life says, “We certainly don’t want the courts to reaffirm Roe with a decision in Ohio.”

Ohio is just one of many states attempting to outdo the Feds in anti-choice zealotry, and it makes me scared for the future of reproductive rights in this country.  How many laws restricting abortion will it take for people to recognize that their rights are being taken away?  How far do the zealots have to go before there’s a widespread outcry?  How many women will be forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term before we demand our legislators stop making it harder for us to exercise our legal, constitutionally protected, right to abortion?

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