Ohio’s “Heartbeat” Abortion Bill

Boy, do I love being from Ohio! Not only does my state rank 45th in Gallup’s well-being index, but the legislature is barging ahead with legislation that completely ignores the needs and desires of its constituents. Not only is the governor, John Kasich, trying to eliminate bargaining rights for public employees, but now an Ohio legislative committee has (narrowly) voted to send Bill 125, otherwise known as the “Heartbeat” abortion bill, on to the House. If it passes, it would be the most restrictive abortion law in the nation.

The bill would make it illegal to have an abortion if a heartbeat is detected, except for medical emergencies. If you’re raped or the victim of incest, tough. You have to have the baby.

Now, a heartbeat is detectable as early as six to seven weeks into a pregnancy. Often a woman doesn’t even know she’s pregnant at that point. So by the time she has her pregnancy confirmed she would already be too far along to have an abortion. Never mind that most chromosomal abnormalities are discovered no earlier than ten weeks. By that time, pregnant women would be locked into continuing a pregnancy that may not even be viable. Or having a baby with severe birth defects. (See my post “A True Story About Loss and Making Hard Decisions.”)

Abortion opponents seem to think that most abortions are performed merely for the sake of convenience. But with abortion laws like the one Ohio is proposing, a woman wouldn’t even have a chance to have her say as to why she wants an abortion. One “Right to Life” website says that 64% of women who have abortions were pressured to have one. (The statistics do not support this claim.)

Apparently it’s okay to pressure a woman to have a baby that she doesn’t feel capable of raising for a variety of reasons, such as economic, psychological, physiological (mother or baby), and family responsibilities she already has. [Source.] What ticks me off about this attitude is that no one seems to care what happens to the mother or the baby after the delivery. She can’t afford the baby? Too bad. She’s not going to get any help from the government. Having a baby would make it hard to finish her education? Good luck trying to find affordable child care, let alone financial aid for school and living expenses.

I think it’s commendable to want to protect the life of a fetus. But will someone please explain to me why the fetus is more important than the mother? After all, she’s already here, maybe trying to support a family already, maybe without a partner, maybe in ill health herself.

Ohio has already made it illegal to have an abortion after 22 weeks. That seems like a good compromise. But after six weeks? That creates an undue hardship for the potential mother. And in fact, it gives her no choice at all.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Roe in 1973 on the basis of a woman’s right to privacy. How many children you have and when you have them seems to me to be the most private decision a woman can make. I vehemently reject the pro-lifers’ stance that they have the right to make that decision for me.