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Defeating Ohio’s “Heartbeat” Bill

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December 17, 2014

HB 248, also known as the “Heartbeat” bill, which threatened to ban abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat (as early as six weeks) was thankfully defeated in the House of Representatives last week! The bill had the potential to make Ohio the most restrictive state in the nation for pregnancy termination. HB 248 was introduced in 2013, and is the second Heartbeat bill to pass through Ohio.

The majority approval the Heartbeat bill in Ohio’s state Committee on Health and Aging shows the dangerous threats towards comprehensive reproductive care in Ohio at this time. This bill got defeated for many reasons, most importantly because it was unconstitutional. By regulating that the detection of a fetal heartbeat would end the right to an abortion, HB 248 violated the constitutional right of women to choose to stop a pregnancy up until the point of “viability.”

One of the most important reasons why we have maintained the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy up until the point of viability is because the people spoke up by calling or sending letters to their representatives expressing the imperative nature of rejecting HB 248. People voiced that they would not stand for their health rights being violated and it had powerful implications of shutting down this particular dangerous, unconstitutional Heartbeat bill.

On average, someone with an unplanned pregnancy can’t even find out that they are pregnant until their body starts to produce hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) which can only definitively be detected by urine tests after twelve days, only two days before the average missed period. Under “Heartbeat” bills this gives someone less than two weeks to acquire an abortion (because fetal weeks are measured after the last missed period), if she is able to determine that she is pregnant before her missed period.

Heartbeat bills would give a pregnant person an absurdly short amount of time to access abortion services. On top of costing an average of $300-800, which many people cannot cover or fundraise for over the period of a week, if they detect at the soonest possible time. The Affordable Care Act only covers abortion for cases of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life is endangered. Public funding, also, is only available for women in these cases, which can be difficult to prove (taking a lot of time to go through courts or need a parent signature for verification which can be difficult or problematic for many young people). On top of raising funds, they have to schedule the appointment, which can be difficult because some clinics only provide abortions a few days or one day a week. In Ohio, patients also have to be subject to a waiting period of 24 hours (it’s longer in some states) and be subjected to state provided counseling and materials that frequently leave out scientific information, falsify information by presenting confusing inaccurate pictures, and often push anti-choice sentiments.

When considering that half of all pregnancies are unintended and that 40% end in abortion, these services are essential to keep as an option for those who want or need them! Heartbeat bills make it almost impossible to get an abortion, so making sure that they do not get passed is essential for retaining the right to get an abortion. It’s promising to know that so many people still support these rights, even when some anti-choice states like Ohio are trying everything in their power to prohibit abortion services and accessible healthcare for women. Stand up for your rights and the rights of us all by fighting unconstitutional Heartbeat bills.

Keep abortion legal!

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