Home Law OPINION: How Ohio’s “Heartbeat Bill” endangers women

OPINION: How Ohio’s “Heartbeat Bill” endangers women

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Opinion writer Madeline Kramer argues that Ohio’s decision to revisit passing the “Heartbeat Bill” represents a danger to the rights of women. 

It does not come as a surprise that the Ohio House of Representatives passed an anti-abortion bill on Nov. 15 — the state legislature stayed mostly Republican during this year’s midterm election. The bill prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The controversial “Heartbeat Bill” passed 60-35.

This bill is controversial for several reasons, first being the timing of the fetal heartbeat. A fetal heartbeat can usually be heard around six weeks, which is only two weeks after a woman’s missed period. During this time period, many women may just be discovering that they are pregnant.

A six week ban on abortion does not give women enough time to make a decision, effectively banning abortion for most women.

Second, the bill does not include any exceptions or specifications for victims of rape or incest. The limited time frame would also affect these women, as they have already been through a traumatic experience and should not be expected to make such a large decision soon after the fact, or not have an option at all.

Doctors are able to make exceptions if there is a medical emergency or if the woman’s life is in danger. Besides this, medical practitioners who still perform abortions could face a fifth degree felony, resulting in up to a year jail time and a $2,500 fine.

The future of the bill is unclear. In 2016, Governor John Kasich vetoed the bill. His reasoning at the time was that the bill contradicts U.S. Supreme Court decisions and would not hold up if the law went to court. If the bill passes in the Ohio Senate before the end of the year, it will likely end up on Gov. Kasich’s desk. The bill would need to be re-proposed to Governor elect, Mike DeWine, after the new year if Kasich vetoes it.

Governor-elect Mike DeWine stated during his campaign that he would sign the Heartbeat Bill into law if this bill is proposed under his governorship. This is a key difference between Kasich and DeWine. Although both Republicans, the timing of this bill going to Ohio Senate could affect its passing.

The Heartbeat Bill is dangerous for women. If the bill passes, women will no longer have a choice. This bill effectively bans safe abortions for the average woman. If safe and medical abortions are not available, women will resort to unsafe abortion methods similar to circumstances prior the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, making many laws that restrict or ban abortive services unconstitutional.

The Heartbeat Bill is setting Ohio back to the 1960’s. Ohio needs to be progressive on women’s issues, not moving backward.

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