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Category: Politics, Health, Reproductive Rights

Women Have a Heartbeat too–A Look at Ohio’s New Heartbeat Bill

February 9, 2011

Ohio’s new Heartbeat Bill will introduce a new way to limit your access to abortion. You may have to make the difficult decision to have an abortion and then find the means to pay for it. The Heartbeat Bill will be presented to the Ohio State legislature next week and it will determine the legality of having an abortion if the fetus has a heartbeat.

Under most circumstances, this means that after just three weeks after conceiving, you would need to discover you are pregnant, and make a decision. This is an almost impossible task, since most women do not know they are pregnant until after they have missed a period. This is one of the most limiting new restrictions on abortion that sidesteps the problems that many citizens had with previous anti-abortion legislation.

Janet Folger Porter, former legislative director of Ohio Right to Life and current president of Faith2Action, a pro-life advocacy group, is known for helping to write the nation’s first successful ban on partial birth abortion and is a co- writer of this bill. "When the Heartbeat Bill passes, it will be the most protective law in the nation," she told Fox News. The bill is backed by Republican Representative Lynn Wachtmann, who has received great support from his fellow representatives.

Of the 60 seats controlled by Republicans in the 99 seat House, 40 have signed the bill. In order to gain more support and publicity on the issue, anti-choicers have developed a website, heartbeatbill.com, asking supporters to purchase heart-shaped balloons (ranging in price from $19.99 – $199.99) to be sent to their state representatives as a visual petition to encourage them to sign the controversial bill. In addition to highlighting powerful anti-abortion quotes from Ohio’s elite anti-choice advocates, the website features a music video covering the Nena song “99 Red Balloons” starring babies dancing to the lyrics, “Wouldn’t it be really neat to protect our first heartbeat?” and “You can be a voice for me, send them something they can see.”

Janet Folger Porter wants to preserves Ohio’s legacy of anti-choice pride: “Ohio has the opportunity to make history again; when the Heartbeat Bill passes, our childrens' hearts will no longer be forcefully and brutally broken.” What is most offensive about this bill and the video is that it presents a woman seeking an abortion as a murderer. It takes what is already a difficult decision; a decision weighed with the highest consequences, and equates it with a bank robbery or drive- by shooting. Unlike previous anti-abortion bills, this bill ignores the rights of the mother.

Only under extreme circumstances will a woman be able to obtain an abortion. By concentrating on the heartbeat of the fetus, and not on the heartbeat of the mother, they have tiptoed around the common arguments associated with anti-abortion bans. We must keep an eye on Ohio and continue to speak up for a woman’s right to choose. Women’s rights are not hurdles at pro-life track meet. This is especially important now, when Georgia, Texas, and Oklahoma wait to follow Ohio’s lead.

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