Addressing Ohio’s Heartbeat Bill

Recently, Ohio’s Human Rights Protection Act, also known as the “heartbeat bill,” was signed by Gov. Mike DeWine after being passed by the General Assembly. The legislation is considered to be one of the strictest abortion bans in the country.

The heartbeat bill outlaws abortion as early as five or six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women know they’re pregnant. Criminal penalties for doctors who perform these abortions include a fifth-degree felony and up to a year in prison. The bill would also allow the State Medical Board to take disciplinary action against doctors found in violation of the law and issue penalties of up to $20,000.

While the bill does include an exception to save the life of the mother, there are no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

Viewed as a step in the right direction to overturn Roe v. Wade for pro-life supporters and organizations, the bill faces backlash and opposition from pro-choice groups and advocates, and rightfully so, for a number of reasons.

According to the ACLU of Ohio, Executive Director of Preterm-Cleveland Chrisse France stated, “This law directly undermines the value of the individual lives of everyone in Ohio who has had an abortion or may need an abortion in the future … People at the margins — young people, people of color, people in poverty, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities and people of varying immigration status will always be the most impacted by this kind of legislation.”

According to the Guttmacher Institute, statistics show that unintended pregnancies affect a number of demographics like the ones previously mentioned. Unintended pregnancy rates are highest among low-income women, women between the ages of 18–24, cohabiting women and women of color. Coincidently, 42% of unintended pregnancies ended in abortion.

According to the National Public Radio, DeWine stated, “The essential function of government is to protect the most vulnerable among us, those who don’t have a voice. Government’s role should be to protect life from the beginning to the end.”

However, Ohio’s Human Rights Protection Act seeks to protect “the most vulnerable” at the expense of young people, people of color, people in poverty, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities and people of varying immigration status — people who are also vulnerable and in need of government protection.

Perhaps, instead of viewing abortion as a flaw in human morality and virtues instead of the legitimate medical procedure it actually is, opposition to abortion should be viewed as a flaw in societal and religious taboos, the United States’ education system, lack of affordable and accessible healthcare and the economic disparity among its citizens.