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Ohio Lawmakers Slide Stealth Draconian Abortion Laws Into Budget

Ohio lawmakers have redefined the terms "pregnancy" and "fetus" to mean something other than the scientific definitions so they can impose a de facto abortion ban on women.

Now that the Ohio legislature passed a budget bill with draconian abortion provisions inserted at the last minute, the ball is in Governor John Kasich's court. He can sign the bill with those provisions included, or use his line-item veto.

The provisions are shiveringly intrusive. InnovationOhio reports:

Yesterday a conference committee met to announce they had added language [view amendment] to the state budget — borrowed from the controversial heartbeat bill – that requires a physician to inform women in writing of the presence of a fetal heartbeat and the statistical likelihood that her fetus could be carried to term. The Department of Health would draft rules for how a fetal heartbeat can be detected, but those rules may only require an external exam. Civil, disciplinary and criminal penalties are included for doctors who purposefully perform or induce an abortion on a woman without fully meeting the new requirements.

The amendment also contains some concerning changes to the definitions of ‘fetus’ and ‘pregnancy.’ The bill now defines fetus as: “human offspring developing during pregnancy from the moment of conception and includes the embryonic stage of development,” and declares that pregnancy begins with fertilization. Biological science defines pregnancy as begin at implantation in the uterine lining. Changing these definitions could have many unforeseen ramifications, including implications for many commonly-used forms of birth control.

There was more, too. The Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act was stripped from the bill prior to passage and new language inserted actually banning the state from expanding it. That ensures that women now caught in instrusive TRAP laws who also live in poverty or near-poverty will not be able to get access to health care through Medicaid. While this is consistent with Republican views about life mattering before it's born and not after, it's going to do harm to Ohio's budget and Ohio's women.

I don't believe the states passing legislation intended to do harm to women's health actually intend to do much more than push litigation up to the Supreme Court in an effort to overturn Roe v. Wade. That's what they did with the Voting Rights Act, and I fully anticipate that the same trajectory will apply here. They've been waiting decades to mount a challenge, and now they are. North Carolina is fully engaged in that battle too, after passing a bill requiring teachers to teach medically inaccurate information to students about abortion and long-term side effects.

2014 will be a critical election year. Get engaged now, and encourage your friends and family to get engaged too. Unless you really, really enjoyed The Handmaid's Tale and the world that existed in Margaret Atwood's imagination when she wrote it, because that's where we're heading if we don't boot these wingnuts out of office.

Here's a bonus. Natasha Chart at RhRealityCheck has written a heartwrenching response to all of those people saying "Just Have The Baby." Unlike the old white men who usually say that, Chart has just had a baby, so she speaks with authority.

Texas. Ohio. North Carolina. Mississippi. Virginia. They're all on the women-hating train, barreling down the tracks at breakneck speed, racing to see who gets to the Supreme Court first. We need to be vigilant.

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