As you may have heard, Texas governor Rick Perry is currently making headlines for his promise to resurrect SB 5, the scary piece of anti-choice legislation that Wendy Davis filibustered last week. But did you know that the state of Ohio has some new anti-choice legislation of its own, and that it has, in fact, already passed it? The war on women has many fronts.
The restrictions, which Ohio governor John Kasich signed into law last night, were attached to a state budget bill in a strategic effort to keep a low profile and force legislators to pass it. Much like SB 5, HB 59’s goal is to shut down women’s health centers that provide, or in some cases, even just mention, abortion services. The bill drastically cuts funding to Planned Parenthood, reallocates funding to intentionally deceptive, religiously motivated “crisis pregnancy centers,” and takes away funding from rape crisis centers that even so much as mention the option of abortion to pregnant rape victims. It also forces abortion providers to provide medically unnecessary ultrasounds and alert women of the presence of a “fetal heartbeat.” And, in an interesting departure from SB 5 (which requires abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a hospital located less than 30 minutes away), the bill actually bars reproductive health centers from transferring women to public hospitals, should they need to.
Because if you can’t make abortion illegal, the least you can do is punish women by making it more dangerous. This was a strategic move to close clinics, because clinics need to be able to transfer patients with complications.
Perhaps most worryingly, the budget redefines a fetus as “developing from the moment of conception,” rather than when the fertilized egg implants in the uterus, despite the fact that most fertilized eggs leave the body before implanting. By this logic, the average woman who is trying to get pregnant is in for many miscarriages.
Despite state republican’s attempts to pass this quietly, many women’s rights groups have been staging protests at the capitol, and recent polls show that a simple majority of Ohio citizens do not support the state budget’s attack on women’s health and reproductive rights. Unfortunately, it seems the people of Ohio have few options on the table right now to reverse it, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to try. In a statement, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards writes:
“Like Governor Perry in Texas, politicians in Ohio knew they couldn’t pass these unpopular measures if they played by the rules — that’s why they tried to bury these provisions in the pages of a must-pass state budget,” Richards pointed out in a statement, referring to the legislators in Texas who continue attempting to push through abortion restrictionsduring a special session. “If they thought no one was looking, Ohioans proved they were wrong. Texas lit a fuse.”
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