Another measure to destroy women’s reproductive rights has been enacted into law, The New York Times reports. This week the Ohio House of Representatives passed what’s known as the “heartbeat bill,” one of the most oppressive abortion bills in the country. An unquestionable attack on Roe v. Wade, the bill criminalizes performing abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The bill will now head to the Ohio Senate.
Doctors who perform an abortion on a fetus with a heartbeat would be charged with a fifth-degree felony and can face up to one year in prison and a $2,500 fine as a result of the bill. A fetal heartbeat can be discovered as early as six weeks, usually when most women do not know they are pregnant. And situations involving rape or incest are not exempt under the bill. Doctors are only allowed to make exceptions during a medical emergency or if an abortion would save the woman’s life.
In a departure from former Governor of Ohio, Republican John Kasich, who had twice vetoed the bill seeing that it was unconstitutional, Republican Governor Mike DeWine signed the bill defending that, “it is the right thing to do,” AP News reports. He continued his justification for attacking constitutional boundaries saying, “taking this action really is a kind of a time-honored tradition, the constitutional tradition of making a good faith argument for modification or reversal of existing legal precedents. So that is what this is.”
Following Mississippi, Kentucky, Iowa and North Dakota, Ohio is the fifth state to pass legislation that bans abortion once a heartbeat is detected. Georgia passed legislation back in March and Governor Brian Kemp, who is openly anti-abortion and has expressed support for the bill, has until May 10th to sign it.
Before the Ohio bill was signed, the state’s ACLU said it was preparing “a constitutional challenge to the law on behalf of Pre-Term Cleveland and three other Ohio abortion clinics.” Supporters of the bill hope that provoking legal opposition has the potential to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, legalizing abortion until viability, usually around 22 to 24 weeks.
Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis declared, “the heartbeat bill is the next incremental step in our strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade.” Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, Kellie Copeland referred to the measures as “a dystopian nightmare where people are forced to continue pregnancies regardless of the harm that may come to them or their family.”
Organizations such as EMILY’s List and the Democratic National Committee have condemned the Ohio bill, which DNC CEO, Seema Nanda, called “the latest example of how the Trump administration’s extremist, anti-women policies have emboldened legislators across the country to attack women’s access to health care.”
Assaults on a women’s right to bodily and biological agency have grown increasingly hostile as more older, white, male lawmakers feel entitled to make decisions on behalf of women’s healthcare and encroach on their reproductive rights. Such legislation is irresponsible and dangerous as the criminalization of abortion forces medical professionals to consider the bounds of the law before addressing the health of their patient, consequently putting the patient's safety at risk. Furthermore, past history has proven that criminalizing abortion DOES NOT STOP ABORTIONS. But it does prevent safe abortions as health-care providers are barred from providing the best care options for patients in agreement with the ethical responsibilities of good medical practice.
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