Citing Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory, Republicans in Ohio have approved what would be the most extremist anti-choice bill in the country if GOP governor and former presidential candidate John Kasich signs it into law.
The measure is being called the “Heartbeat Bill” as it would prohibit abortions in Ohio if a fetal heartbeat is detected, which generally happens six weeks into a woman’s pregnancy. As if this sole component wasn’t extreme enough, the right-wing legislation would also ban abortions in instances of rape and incest.
At the last minute, Republican lawmakers attached the measure to unrelated legislation dealing with child abuse.
In 2015, a similar measure died in the Ohio Senate as Kasich and other pro-life organizations said it was unrealistic and would likely be knocked down by federal courts. That has, indeed, happened in two states – Alabama and North Dakota – that passed similar “heartbeat laws.”
Republicans behind the latest anti-choice effort believe their state’s law will have a different fate because of the incoming administration.
“One, a new President, new Supreme Court justice appointees change the dynamic, and that there was a consensus in our caucus to move forward,” Keith Faber, Ohio’s Senate President, said after the legislation passed.
Faber added that he thinks the measure “has a better chance than it did before” to win the inevitable legal challenges it would face.
The only person standing in the way of the bill officially becoming law is Kasich, who has 10 days to either approve or veto it. If Kasich decides to do nothing at all, it would become law by default.
While we can and should be outraged by this extremist attack on reproductive rights, none of us should be surprised by it. Republicans have long been trying to restrict or criminalize abortion.
What makes this time different is the man who will be living in the White House starting in January 2017.
Trump has repeatedly expressed his support for overturning Roe v. Wade and has even gone as far as saying women should be punished for having abortions. If and when he appoints like-minded conservatives to the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s no longer a guarantee that this type of restrictive legislation would be defeated in the courts.
If Hillary Clinton was president-elect, this type of law, while still abhorrent, wouldn’t be as disturbing because it would never stand in a Supreme Court shaped by her. With Trump heading to the White House next month, it’s no longer a certainty.
This is disturbing, and should once and for all debunk the ridiculous claim that elections don’t matter.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.