Guest post from ground zero in the fight against Ohio's abortion ban
My home state of Ohio is on the verge of passing what is currently the most extreme abortion ban in the country. If the bill passes, abortion care would be outlawed so early in pregnancy that it may be illegal before a woman even knows she’s pregnant.
The bill easily passed the House this summer, but it was stalled for months in the Senate.
After an airplane circled the statehouse asking legislators to pass the bill now — during the very last days of session, when more than half a million Ohioans are unemployed — the Senate is turning its attention to this bill. The result is nothing short of a circus.
In the spring, the House was presented with what proponents publicized as “testimony from the fetus:”
“To convince the state House Health Committee of the bill’s merits, activists recruited the youngest witness ever to ‘testify’: a nine-week-old fetus. Unfortunately for the group, the sideshow failed, since the fetus’ heartbeat was pretty much undetectable.
Several months later, with the bill now before the state Senate, Republicans brought in the nine-week-old baby that has developed from the fetal ‘witness’ to act as a ‘silent witness.'"
In the Senate, things have certainly not calmed down, and the gimmicks are back. During last Thursday’s hearing, a baby was brought out to “re-testify.” All of this might be merely cute as opposed to offensive, if not for the fact that grown women opposed to the bill were prohibited from testifying.
So, to recap — a months-old baby was an “expert” witness, and women whose rights would be severely curtailed were denied an opportunity to speak.
Meanwhile, everyone on all sides admits that this is an unconstitutional proposal. The proponents are on record as wanting to use this to reverse Roe v. Wade. I think Ohioans would agree that this is not the time to spend unknown amounts of cash on a legal battle over cruel legislation.
Even so, we expect additional hearings tomorrow and Wednesday, with the Senate potentially set to vote Wednesday. And Thursday, legislators go home for the year having ignored what most Ohioans actually care about.
Governor Kasich, when faced with an $8 billion budget shortfall earlier this year, chose to balance the next budget on the backs of workers and attack their collective bargaining rights. Voters have already rebuked him for that broad overreach at the polls this past November.
Now it’s time for Ohioans to speak out against government overreach again.
Newspapers from around the state, even more conservative ones, are roundly condemning the legislation. On Friday , the conservative Cincinnati Enquirer published an editorial on the bill. Their take, “Now’s not the time” for the bill, which “is not only unlikely to prevail but poorly thought out, unworkable and divisive.” Just yesterday , the Toledo Blade reinforced their opposition to the bill, calling it “simply bad law. It is a political and ideological statement masquerading as public policy.”
If you’re in Ohio, please call the Chairman of the Ohio Senate Health, Human Services and Aging Committee, Sen. Scott Oelslager, at (877)-810-9757. Ask him to stop wasting taxpayers’ time and money with this unconstitutional bill and go back to work trying to fix the state’s economy.
-Gabriel Mann is the e-organizer for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Ohio Action Fund
(photo credit: Jim Bowen)