The Ohio state legislature, specifically the House, last week decided to give the heartbeat bill—dictating abortions cannot be performed when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks—another pass. Now, anti-abortion Republicans are ramping up their attack on reproductive rights even further in a bid to start handing out death sentences.
H.B. 565 would ban abortion outright; not only that, it would change the status of an “unborn human” to a legally protected person under Ohio law, meaning those who seek out and receive abortions could be fully prosecuted, which in Ohio could potentially mean facing the death penalty. There would be no exceptions, not for cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother.
The bill was sponsored and introduced in March by Rep. Nino Vitale and Rep. Ron Hood. To give you a better sense of these fine gentlemen: In the past several months, Vitale has introduced legislation that includes a Stand Your Ground law, pushed for shutting down the border, and blamed the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on America’s problem with God, not guns. Meanwhile, Hood has pushed to expand concealed carry, supported lower corporate taxes and union-busting laws. He has also called abortion “the slaughter of children.”
They are, in a word, assholes. Now, that’s not a surprising summation, but neither is their move to bully through one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws running. Like the so-called “heartbeat” bill, this isn’t the first time such heinous legislation has started to snake its way through the Ohio House. Back in 2016, the state’s House and Senate passed a six-week abortion ban that was vetoed by Gov. John Kasich. The only problem was that Kasich turned around and signed a 20-week ban that also made no exceptions.
Kasich is still the governor, meaning he might veto the six-week ban should it pass the Senate and reach his desk, with a decent chance he would also veto Hood and Vitale’s latest monstrosity. The problem is Ohio is one of 26 Republican trifectas, meaning the governorship and both chambers of the legislature are always going to skew somewhere between center-right and, well, this kind of far-right bullshit; in Ohio, the GOP outnumbers the Democrats 24-9 in the Senate and 66-33 in the House.
Here’s the good news: The Ohio Right to Life group, the folks with the anti-abortion agenda that fund a great deal of these measures, are not targeting this bill for passage, with President Mike Gonidakis citing a desire to challenge abortion and Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court.
“We need to continue to pass legislation in an incremental approach, which is what Ohio Right to Life does,” Gonidakis told WOSU, meaning his group would prefer to chip away at Roe’s protections bit by bit, rather than risk the political fallout of trying to do so in one fell swoop.
In plain English, even these ghouls think H.B. 565 is a little too evil for the present moment, but they’d like to get there, eventually.