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April 19th, 2012 By Hannah McCartney | News |

Ohio's Heartbeat Bill Drawing National Attention

One of nation's harshest anti-abortion bills still stalled in Ohio Senate

thumbPhoto: onumba.com
"WE ARE ABOUT TO END ALMOST EVERY ABORTION IN OHIO!" proclaims the heading at heartbeatbill.com, the brainchild of the bill's most staunch supporters.

That's a terrifyingly bold statement, and it's one that's not entirely true. What is true, though, is that the longtime movement by steadfast anti-abortionists to pass a bill with the power to overturn Roe v. Wade and prevent the majority of abortions within the state has grown steam and caused pro-choicers around the country to perk up and say, "Really?"

If you don't know much about the bill, here are the basics: If passed, the legislation would effectively outlaw just about every abortion in Ohio. That includes no exceptions would be granted due to rape, incest or threats to the mother's health. If a heartbeat could be detected in the fetus, an abortion would be halted from moving forward.

To be exact, the proposed bill, HB 125, would do three things:

1. It requires the abortionist to check to see if the unborn baby the pregnant woman is carrying has a heartbeat. Sec. 2919.19(C).
2. If the child has been found to have a heartbeat, it requires the abortionist to let the mother know this. Sec. 2919.19(D)
3. If the baby is found to have a detectable heartbeat, that child is protected from being killed by an elective abortion. Sec. 2919.19(E).

Keep in mind that a fetus's heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks after conception; a point in time when many women won't even know they're pregnant.

Heartbeat bill advocates recently ran a full-page ad in The Columbus Dispatch, which features a letter from Dr. Jack Willke, a proponent of the bill at the forefront of the movement, pleading Republican senators to bring the bill to a Senate vote. "Tell the Ohio GOP Senate to pass the strongest Heartbeat Bill now — or we will work to replace them with people who will," says the ad.

A poll released by Quinnipiac University in January suggests that the issue does hold steam among a marked amount of Ohio voters; 50 percent of Ohio voters say abortion should be legal in all or most cases while 44 percent say it should be illegal in all or most cases.

Those are fairly staggering numbers, considering Roe v. Wade has been around since 1973 protecting women's right to choose what to do with their bodies (until viability, that is — when a fetus could sustain itself outside a mother's womb). Jezebel.com just gave Cleveland, Ohio a spot on its not-so prestigious list of "The Ten Scariest Places to Have Ladyparts in America." Even with the anti-abortion supporters in the minority, it's a bit terrifying that the gap is so slim. And if voters are really as evenly divided as the statistics suggest, we've got some major reform to do. "The law's bullshit and will likely be blocked from ever being enforced by a judge with some damn sense, but, like most crazy abortion laws, it's the thought that counts," says the Jezebel article.

So it's true: The atmosphere regarding reproductive rights in Ohio is one that is markedly unforgiving. What does that mean for Ohio women? Right now, the bill continues to stall in the Senate, as it has for more than a year. Even if the bill should somehow go before the Senate for a vote, there's a strong likelihood it would be struck down, perhaps even weakening the pro-life movement, should a precedent further supporting Roe v. Wade be set. 

Still, the anti-abortion force in Ohio is one to be reckoned with, and it champions a voice that's had a pervasive presence since Roe v. Wade days. Certainly crazier legislative changes have happened; what if, by some chance, the bill was passed? Only time will tell.

Faith2Action, a staunch pro-life organization driving much of the support behind the bill's passage, has organized the "Final Push" rally on May 19 at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus to assemble support for the bill's approval in Senate. The event will commence with a worship and prayer session, and conclude with a rally to get the Senate's attention.

 
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