What happened to the campaign promises to create jobs and fix the economy? Everyone knows Ohio unemployment is getting worse, not better. And remember when, during the debates on federal health care reform, those same politicians campaigned on smaller government and said government had no place in the health decisions of Americans? You may remember, but our politicians have clearly forgotten. Instead of keeping their campaign promises, they have launched a War on Women.
Since last January, 10 pieces of legislation that would further limit access to abortion and family planning services have been introduced in Ohio. Ten. One of those bills — House Bill 125, the so-called heartbeat bill — would outlaw abortion so early in pregnancy that many women don’t yet realize they are pregnant. But that doesn’t go far enough for some anti-choice groups. Personhood Ohio is trying to get a constitutional amendment put on the November ballot that would define a fertilized egg as a person under the law. All abortions would be outlawed, as would most forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization. Women who have miscarriages could be investigated and charged with murder.
These efforts demonstrate a shocking lack of respect or compassion for the women of our state — even those who may face life-threatening illnesses, incest or rape. The message couldn’t be more clear: Ohio politicians, and the anti-choice organizations that fund their campaigns, don’t trust women. Where did this hostility toward women come from? Why aren’t the women of Ohio seen as competent enough to make personal and private decisions regarding our bodies and health with the consultation of our doctors? Since when did we need the authority of out-of-touch politicians? Since when did we become the enemy?
Last week, we marked the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion — and, given the extreme agenda unfolding in the states and in Washington, D.C., it is critical that the majority of Ohioans who support a woman’s right to choose increase their intensity in supporting that right.
Roe represents the fundamental values of freedom and privacy. In the 39 years since this landmark decision, the variety and level of women’s achievements have reached unprecedented heights. The Supreme Court has observed that the ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the nation has been facilitated by our ability to control our reproductive lives.
If Ohio politicians outlaw abortion in our state, will that be the end of it? No. Wealthy women will travel out-of-state to access safe abortion care, while those without financial means will turn to illegal and unsafe methods to terminate their pregnancies. Many will be harmed, and some will die. Those who get caught will be thrown in jail. I don’t remember any politicians campaigning on this. Do you?
If the goal is to reduce the number of abortions, making it inaccessible or illegal is not the answer. So what is? Well, actually, there are three things we can do.
First, we need to decrease the number of unintended pregnancies. Half of all pregnancies are unintended, and nearly half of those end in abortion. Ohio politicians should pass the Ohio Prevention First Act, which was introduced for the fourth time last year. It would decrease the number of unintended pregnancies by increasing access to family planning services and comprehensive sex education. This will help women decide when and if they want to become pregnant.
Second, since women are disproportionally affected by the economy, we need to increase the number of jobs that pay a living wage and offer quality health care insurance. Women who experience an unplanned pregnancy will be more willing to carry those pregnancies to term if they know they are able to provide for another child in their family. They will also have better access to prenatal care, which will reduce the number of pregnancy complications and birth defects.
Third, we need to stop electing hypocritical politicians who oppose abortion rights, for they are the same people who stand in the way of family planning, comprehensive sex education, universal health care and jobs that pay a living wage.
Or maybe we should just do one simple thing: Trust women.
Kellie Copeland is executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.
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- Happy 39th Anniversary Roe v. Wade
- Ohio’s Heartbeat Bill Strains Anti-Choice Unity