Texas Republicans aren’t the only ones trying to ban abortion this month. In an outrageous attempt to strip women of their constitutional right to make their own reproductive health decisions, Ohio Republicans are using the state budget legislation to force through a bevy of anti-abortion measures that have grave consequences if passed into law.
Among the provisions reported by ThinkProgress is the defunding of Planned Parenthoods across the state, which will destroy healthcare for over 100,000 low-income women, meaning no more breast cancer exams, cervical cancer exams; no more contraception that prevents the unwanted pregnancies that lead to abortions in the first place, and multiple other health services Planned Parenthood provides, only three percent of which is abortion services.
Republicans have also added a measure that threatens all the abortion clinics in the state. Ohio law currently requires that abortion clinics have patient transfer agreements with local hospitals in case some patients have medical complications. If Republicans have their way, all public hospitals would be banned from having these transfer agreements; thus clinics would be shut down because it would nearly impossible to find a hospital with which to cooperate. Closing these clinics by rigging the system in such a way amounts to a ban of abortion.
But that’s not all. Republicans are also attacking rape victims by slashing funding to rape crisis centers that provide women who have been raped with information about abortion services. This heartless provision forces rape crisis centers to essentially become places that protect the pregnancies forced upon women by their rapists. How can any rape victim trust a rape crisis center if the center is forced to remain silent when a victim pleads with them to help her end a pregnancy that was forced upon her? Rape crisis centers are supposed be reliable places that victims can trust to provide the information they need. But that will all change if this bill becomes law.
And that’s still not all. All of the money stripped from rape crisis centers and Planned Parenthood will be funneled into the accounts of “crisis pregnancy centers.” These centers are right-wing organizations where anti-abortion employees, who are most often not medically trained, bully women into not having abortions, using unscientific conservative propaganda such as claiming that abortions cause cancer and other fear-based strong-arm tactics.
But wait, there’s now a new one. On Tuesday, Republicans added language that would force women to undergo an ultrasound. Doctors would be required by law to search for a fetal heartbeat and tell the patient all about it, including the probability of the fetus surviving to full term. Such a law could lead to a fetal heartbeat bill that bans abortion as early as six weeks. The provision as it currently stands is completely unnecessary since women who choose to have an abortion are highly unlikely to change their minds. Women are also willing to go to extreme lengths to have an abortion if they are denied safe and legal access to one. For example, because southern states have restricted abortion so much, many women are forced to travel to Mexico to get an abortion. This kind of desperate measure leads to many deaths that could have been prevented if these women had easy access to a safe and legal abortion in their state.
If Ohio Republicans succeed in passing their despicable legislation, women will lose their right to make their own reproductive health decisions. Access to a safe and legal abortion will be nearly eliminated, even for women who are raped. Both the state Senate and House are controlled by the GOP, and Governor Kasich is an anti-choice conservative. Unless action is taken, the legislation is likely to pass. What women in Ohio need right now is a statewide protest of the bill to prevent their health decisions from being made by extreme right-wing male politicians. More importantly, the people of Ohio need to flock to the voting booth in 2014 to boot Republicans out of the state government altogether. Only then will women’s health be safe and secure.