After Two Unconstitutional Anti-Abortion Bills Pass, We Have to Ask: What’s the Matter With Ohio’s Lame Duck Legislature?

This piece was originally posted by the ACLU of Ohio.

It’s lame duck season in the state of Ohio and this year seems like the “super special” version. During the lame duck session, the legislature has just a few short weeks to pass laws before all bills have to start over from scratch in the new year.

In a matter of 72 hours, Ohio’s super-majority party has managed to attach, pass, and push through a nearly unbelievable amount of legislation.

Two of these bills would severely restrict or essentially outlaw abortion in Ohio: one passed this Tuesday, would ban abortion after six weeks and another passed late Thursday night would ban abortion after 20 weeks.

There was hope that, for once, Ohio’s legislators would be able to focus on actual important issues affecting the Buckeye State instead of attacks on clinics and interference with women’s health. Adding these two bills, Ohio legislators have now introduced nearly 20 provisions designed to restrict a woman’s access to abortion since 2011.

Reproductive Freedom Is Under Attack in Ohio…

The Ohio Senate passed the six-week ban, which had been languishing in the Senate for over a year, with no public hearings. It was particularly disturbing to learn that the six-week ban would be attached to an unrelated bill to help children suffering from abuse and neglect.

This unexpected move was made more baffling by fact that the Ohio Right to Life, Gov. John Kasich (R), and Senate President Keith Faber (R) previously have not supported the six-week ban. Ohio Right to Life has maintained its opposition and the governor has declined to comment. Yet, Sen. Faber,  made clear that his motivation to support the bill included the recent election and the future of the U.S. Supreme Court.

… And Ohioans Don’t Even Get a Say

A few hours after the six-week ban passed, we learned that the 20-week ban was set to be heard in committee in the Ohio House too. With less than half an hour’s notice before the committee convened, there was virtually no opportunity for anyone to speak out against the bill.

Tuesday  morning, despite another late notification for the bill hearing, a small group of people were able to voice their opposition to the legislation. Legislators ignored the pleas of faith leaders and the personal stories of women and families whose lives would be affected by this legislation and the bill passed easily.

Many Questions Remain Unanswered

Why pass a 20-week ban when the six-week ban has already passed? Why would the Senate president suddenly decide to pass a six-week ban when he has been so clearly against it? Will Gov. Kasich veto the six-week ban and sign the 20-week ban to maintain his false “moderate” reputation? Or is the 20-week ban a backup in case the six-week ban is overturned?  When will the legislature abandon politician interference and their attempts to insert themselves between a woman and her doctor?

What we do know is that bills passed under the cover of darkness, with little to no public input, are an irresponsible approach to legislation and an affront to an Ohio woman’s right to an abortion in the state. Similar bans that attempt to restrict abortion at different points in pregnancy have already been struck down by courts in ArizonaIdahoArkansas and North Dakota.

How many women and families will have to be hurt and how many tax dollars will have to be wasted before Ohio’s legislative leaders get the message to stop interfering with a woman’s health decisions?

Unfortunately, it’s pretty clear that the legislators who voted for such draconian legislation are flagrantly ignoring a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion and not taking into consideration her health and well-being.

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Anonymous

Thanks to Trump getting elected these bills will eventually be upheld because he will fill the lower courts as well as The Supreme Court with conservative justices. Thank God these babies will finally be protected from the wholesale slaughter of left wing baby killers.

Anonymous

But who will protect "these babies" when they are born into families who cannot afford to care for them? Trump and his fellow conservatives will do absolutely nothing to help them and will blame them for their predicament and for being on "welfare." And who will protect the mothers who have ectopic pregnancies and will be forced to carry a fetus to term who will never survive and in the process cause significant danger to the health of the mother and possibly kill her? And who will protect the women who were sexually abused and/or raped and/or victims of incest who will be forced to carry a fetus to term because they were victims of crime? And who will protect the married couples who have spent years considering whether to have children and decided they do not want to raise children, do you have the right to take away their free will and force them to have a child?

Why do you care for the "unborn" so much when you don't care what happens to the child or the mother after a birth? Having a child is a very important personal decisions between a woman, her partner, and their doctors. The government should have no place controlling a woman's health decisions.

Anonymous

I'm super excited to find someone who is finally looking after my unborn baby! I am in an abusive marriage that I am finally leaving to protect my existing children. I have not worked in ten years and have no prospects for a job that pays more than minimum wage. I know you care! Would you please mail monthly checks to me to feed my new baby and help cover the daycare my minimum wage job will not? Please let me know your address so we can connect and you can help support us!! I know you have a big heart and want to get involved.

Anonymous

You don't like birth control. You don't like abortion. A woman can not impregnate herself. How about we make it a crime for any man to impregnates a woman without her notarized consent and a full disclosure of emotional and financial responsibility from the man before sex? And any child born is entitled to 40% of the man's earnings. And if a man decides not to work, or to hide his earnings from his not-aborted children.. he goes to a work camp until his children are provided for by him. Because a child deserves to be cared for after it is born. Pro-lifers protest signs should state: "Shame the woman. Honor the Dad. Care for the fetus. Dump the child.''

Anonymous

I cannot comprehend how the ACLU and Americans in general can support everyone's right except the most defenseless - the unborn. I would financially support the ACLU if it did not have such blatant disregard for unborn human life. I agree that we need to protect women, but I can think of no other issue where the ACLU shows less concern than for the defenless Human beings living (for the moment) within a woman's body.

Shannon from Ohio

Anonymous,
I hope your dream of abortions ending comes true. It is my dream as well. As a pro choice woman in Ohio, that is truthfully what we want. However, that is currently not the state of things. Things that must be done to achieve this goal:
1. Sexual Education needs to be correct, thorough, and early.
2. Rape and sexual abuse need to end.
Before you say "a rape victim will take the morning after pill" please remember that many women who are raped are raped over a period of time not just once. I also include Ohio's massive human trafficking issue.
3. Fertility needs to be solved. Now there is an elephant in the room of people who use IVF etc. Selective Deletion. Where multiple embryos are inserted under the assumption that only one or two will attach. However every IVF patient has had to have a talk with their doctor about this process. I also point out to 200 families last year in Ohio who have genetic testing and are faced with the choice at 23 weeks to continue a pregnancy that will end in still birth or a child born in pain until its last breath days later?
4. Support for women who fall through the cracks. No matter what, an unplanned pregnancy will happen. A condom will break, a medicine will fail, an IUD won't work. We as a community need to NOT shame women who are in this role. We should ask "What can I do to help my fellow man?" Is it child care programs so the mother can work/go to school? Is it a food program so that there is never food insecurity?
5. Illegal and harmful drug use needs to be addressed. In Northwest Ohio, Lucas county foster care had to ask the voters for increased funding for babies born addicted to opioids. In 2014, the state averaged 6.9 of 1000 live births were born addicted to opioids and that number is growing.

Thank you and I hope we can work towards this common goal of making sure every pregnancy is greater with joy by all.
Shannon from Ohio

Anonymous

The unborn belong to the mother and father, no one else. They are not yet part of society and society has no place determining their the destiny nor the destiny of the involved parties. Any attempt to do so is an invasion of privacy, theft of personal freedom to define one's own life plan, and a blatant attempt to intimidate and control the woman, whether citizen, resident or visitor.

D.M. Watson

It is interesting to me that the argument has gone from whether or not the cells inside the mother's womb is human (and therefore has unalienable rights per the Constitution), to whether the government has any right to tell an individual what they can and cannot do with their bodies.

Anonymous

Women have had the right to choose. They chose the right to have sex. They chose the right not to use protection. They chose the right not to have their partner wear protection. They chose the right not to use the morning after pill. They have lots of choices. Now people are upset that they get to choose again after 5 months if they want to have a baby. Why not just give them the option of killing them when ever they feel like it? People are crazy. You will fight for the life of a convicted killer but condemn those who haven't had a chance to even experience life yet.

Anonymous

Instead of attacking women for receiving sperm as a right/choice, why don't you attack men for depositing their sperm into women's vaginas when allowed to (or not) if either they or their female counterparts do not want children. If men could get pregnant, there would be a change in attitude for many people.

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