Ohio Being Terrible About Abortion Again
Over the past month, Texas has really been bringing it with the terrible and nonsensical anti-abortion laws. Mississippi hasn't slacked off either, and is getting its 15-week abortion ban dreams reviewed by the Supreme Court. But we haven't heard from good old Ohio since April when the Sixth Circuit gave the state permission to prosecute doctors for performing abortions if patients say they are having them because the fetus they are carrying has Down syndrome.
The dry spell is over and we are beginning with two separate bad Ohio abortion bills. Oh joy.
The first isn't a statewide mandate, but Lebanon, Ohio, has voted to ban abortion and declare itself a "sanctuary city for the unborn." There are no abortion clinics in Lebanon, Ohio, so that actually shouldn't affect anything whatsoever.
A southwest Ohio city became the first in the state Tuesday to enact a measure outlawing abortion and declaring itself "a sanctuary city for the unborn," setting itself up for a likely legal challenge by opponents who call the ban unconstitutional.
The vote by Lebanon City Council was unanimous — after one member quit in protest. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that that member, Krista Wyatt, said she could no longer associate her name with the body "as a respectable, decent human being."
No abortion clinics are located in Lebanon and none are planned. Mayor Amy Brewer said the ordinance sends a signal that the community would not welcome such a facility. Abortion remains legal in Ohio and the rest of the country following a 1973 Supreme Court decision that women have a constitutional right to seek an abortion.
Of course, this measure will not be providing medical care to all pregnant people so as to ensure that the "unborn" are born healthy — which would certainly be helpful in a state with such high infant and maternal mortality rates. It applies only to abortion, because if a fetus dies due to a lack of medical care, that's just God's will.
It also won't be doing anything else, for now, because abortion is still legal whether Lebanon, Ohio, likes it or not.
Meanwhile, the state at large is trying to pass a "Born Alive" bill meant to make it illegal for doctors to abort babies that have been "born alive" during an abortion despite the fact that this is already covered by existing homicide laws.
"Born Alive" bills are the "Have you stopped beating your wife?" of anti-choice legislation. Were a pro-choice legislator to vote to approve them, it would be tantamount to asserting that it is currently legal for a doctor to kill a child that has been "born alive" during an abortion (it's not) and that this is a thing that regularly happens (it's not). Of course, when they vote against them, as they should, anti-choicers then get to go, "This person thinks it's okay to abort children that have already been born!"
It's something they desperately need to pretend is true in order to get more people on their side. And the fact is, it works. Because unfortunately there are people out there who truly are stupid enough to think, "Oh well, I used to be pro-choice but then when I found out that meant supporting smacking a newborn baby over the head with a hammer repeatedly in order to kill it, I changed my mind."
According to the lawmakers trying to pass the bill, what they're really trying to do is simply collect data so that they can prove that this is a real thing that happens in Ohio.
[State Sen. Terry] Johnson said while the bill has punitive aspects for physicians, it is primarily a measure to "provide a reporting system" for abortion procedures in which the baby is born alive after a "failed abortion," which research shows could only happen closer to the full term of a pregnancy. Full term is considered 40 weeks gestation.
In Ohio, abortion is legal up to 22 weeks gestation.
While he said data has settled the dispute in the General Assembly last year that cases of "born alive abortions" were rare or non-existent across the country, Johnson also said the new bill was necessary to find out if it occurred in the state.
"We don't want to overlook the fact that we would like Ohio to determine whether this actually happens in Ohio or not, and if it does, we can record it and we can take a cold, hard look at the results of that," Johnson told the Senate Government Oversight & Reform Committee.
So he knows it doesn't happen in the country at large, but still thinks it might be happening in Ohio?
While Senator Johnson admits that infant homicide is already illegal, he insists that the reason he doesn't have any proof that this actually happens in Ohio is because there's not an official reporting form for it.
When asked about current law on infant death, Johnson acknowledged that federal law already makes infant homicide a criminal offense. But when asked to provide an example of occurrences in Ohio, Johnson said the state doesn't collect that data.
"In states where they do have a reporting form and where they do pay attention to this, they can gather data and they prove that it happens," Johnson said. "How would we know in Ohio? We don't check it."
Exactly how is it that he thinks this is going to work? A doctor is going to stab a newborn baby in the head and then ... fill out a form saying "I just stabbed a newborn baby in the head"? Because usually people who commit crimes don't fill out forms admitting to said crimes for statistical purposes.
Johnson is also wrong about there being no mechanism for reporting what happens after an abortion — state law requires that physicians not only report abortion numbers for the purposes of compiling statistics, they are also required by law to report any post-abortion complications. One would assume that a fetus being born alive during the procedure and then cruelly murdered by a bloodthirsty doctor would be included in this category.
The purpose of this law, again, is not to address an actual problem that is happening in real life, but to make anti-choicers feel good and to make people on the fence believe that not only are post-birth abortions currently legal, but that pro-choicers wish for them to remain legal. That is all.
It seems as though there should be some kind of law requiring that legislation address only problems that have been proven to actually exist, but unfortunately there is not.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse