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Feminspire | April 24, 2014

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Ohio Legislature to Reconsider Restrictive “Heartbeat Bill”

Ohio Legislature to Reconsider Restrictive “Heartbeat Bill”

Anti-choice republicans are bouncing back quickly from Tuesday’s election results. While the re-election of pro-choice President Barack Obama, the election of a record number of women elected to Congress, and the defeat of the GOP’s “creepy rape caucus” signaled a decisive victory for women’s rights, extremist anti-choice legislators still believe that pushing restrictive, state-level abortion laws will help them in their fight to “end abortion”.

While exit polls in the state of Ohio indicate that most of its voters support reproductive freedoms, Ohio’s state legislature announced plans to reconsider its controversial and restrictive “heartbeat bill,” HB 125. If passed, the bill would become one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation, banning all abortions that occur after a fetal heartbeat is detectable and prohibiting exceptions for rape, incest, and the health of the mother. Nevermind the fact that fetal heartbeats are usually detectable around 6 or 7 weeks, the time when most people are only just realizing that they are pregnant.

Ohio right to life movements were split in their support of HB 125. Extremist anti-choice activists insist on going forth with the restrictive bill, but others within the movement fear that a bill too extreme would not hold up to constitutional scrutiny in the Supreme Court under the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision. The bill passed through Ohio’s House of Representatives last June, but has been halted while these right to life groups make a few changes to the bill to make it ready to come up for vote again this Fall. After the extensive debates about rape, incest, and life of the mother in the past election season, it is likely that the changes to HB 125 will address those vital concerns.

It looks like the GOP’s major losses in this election have not dampened their take-away-your-rights spirit. We will likely see another onslaught of restrictive abortion legislation at the state level in the next year as anti-choice legislators attempt to chip away at people’s federally protected right to privacy and challenge President Obama’s support of reproductive freedom. Though most of the original avalanche of anti-choice legislation which began in 2011 was defeated, a few devastating abortion restrictions were enacted. Most notable of those was Arizona’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks. The law allows a slim loophole for medical emergencies, but it still will effectively force people to carry dead or dying fetuses with severe and fatal abnormalities, which normally are not detected until after 20 weeks, to term. It is important to remember that in this political game between pro-choice and “pro-life” advocates, the reality of pregnant people’s situations is very often devastating and nearly always ignored.

If these attempts to enact more and more abortion restrictions are successful in the way the GOP and the anti-choice movement want them to be, we may also see a challenge of Roe vs. Wade in our lifetime. But hey, at least we can be confident that when it comes time to appoint a new Supreme Court Justice who may be reviewing that challenge, President Obama will be the one making that crucial decision.

Written by Brenna McCaffrey
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