Ohio Anti-Abortion Provisions Even More Extreme Than Previously Believed

Gov. John Kasich signs the two-year state budget during a ceremony at the Statehouse. BROOKE LAVALLEY | DISPATCH

Gov. John Kasich signs the two-year state budget during a ceremony at the Statehouse. BROOKE LAVALLEY | DISPATCH

On Sunday, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed some of the most extreme anti-abortion provisions into law, while surrounded by male colleagues. The measures were tacked on to the state budget bill by Republicans in the state legislature who knew damn well that such provision would never pass on an individual basis. The measures include defunding Planned Parenthoods, defunding rape crisis centers, giving taxpayer money to right-wing crisis pregnancy centers that bully women into not having an abortion, bans public hospitals from having patient transfer agreements with abortion clinics (which will force many clinics to close), and requires women to have an ultrasound before getting an abortion. It’s that final point that is the most important and women should be enraged after finding out why.

Among the abortion provisions signed into law on Sunday includes one that drastically redefines pregnancy. Science currently agrees that pregnancy begins once the fertilized egg implants in the uterine lining. But Republicans and the anti-choice groups that control them want to make their own definition the law of the land. They define pregnancy as beginning at fertilization and they have included that definition into the new abortion laws within the budget, which would significantly alter the meaning of the ultrasound law, according to a report by Plunderbund http://www.plunderbund.com/2013/06/28/how-the-birth-control-ultrasound-budget-works/.

The law states that:

The human female reproductive condition that begins with fertilization, when the woman is carrying the developing human offspring, and that is calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period of the woman.

But thats not all. Republicans also decided to define what a fetus is as well, stating,

The human offspring developing during pregnancy from the moment of conception and includes the embryonic stage of development.

In short, Republicans are proclaiming that life begins at conception, but are essentially granting personhood before the joining of sperm and egg by dating the age of a fetus to when the woman had her last menstrual cycle, which is weeks before ovulation. These conservative policies have been soundly rejected by voters in other states which attempted to pass such a measure, which is probably another reason why Ohio Republicans decided to sneak the measures into the budget bill.

This draconian rewrite of accepted science has a particularly outrageous effect if combined with the current Ohio Revised Code which defines abortion as follows:

The purposeful termination of a human pregnancy by any person, including the pregnant woman herself, with an intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus or embryo.

Overall, that means the forced ultrasound requirement could apply to any Ohio woman who tries to obtain birth control. Not only that, women will be required to wait 24 hours before they can receive their birth control. Because birth control prevents pregnancy as it is defined by medical science, the current Republican definition would now classify using birth control as an abortion. Thus, all women across the state of Ohio will be forced to undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound and then sit through a 24 hour waiting period in order to get the birth control they want to protect themselves from getting an unwanted pregnancy. And to add insult to injury, women will be required to pay for the ultrasound, which makes birth control more expensive and more inaccessible, especially to low income women. That is what Ohio Republicans have done.

Maddow Blog has also reported on this finding, stating that,

Republican policymakers in the state decided to redefine the words “pregnancy” and “fetus” in state law — the budget decides that a woman is pregnant even before a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterine lining. The effect of this policy may prevent a woman from using an IUD in the state of Ohio.

It certainly looks like the law could be read in such a fashion, which means what began as an already extreme set of laws designed to heavily restrict women’s reproductive rights has now gotten even worse for the women of Ohio. Ohio Republicans have stepped over a line that never should have been crossed. Rather than introducing each provision as an individual bill that would almost certainly be defeated, Republicans decided to undermine the democratic process and go against the will of the people to force the provisions into law by attaching them to the unrelated state budget, which is 4,000 pages in length. Now, women’s reproductive rights and decisions are no longer their own. They have been hijacked by the anti-women conservatives of the Republican Party.