Since January of 2011, there has been an onslaught of anti-choice laws introduced to the House and Senate that have become more and more extreme as the year progressed. We’ve seen a fetus testify in the Ohio House, to sway the public that all abortions performed after six weeks should be illegal with no exceptions. We’ve watched our governor sign a sweeping law that could make abortions after 20 weeks illegal (instead of the previously generally agreed upon point of possible viability at 24 weeks) only now without adequate protection for life and health of the woman. We’ve watched our elected officials who campaigned under the guise of “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!” not only seemingly forget that an unacceptable number of us are still out of work, but that being out of work usually means it’s a bad idea to have (more) children. They want to to cut off funding for our birth control, and then turn around and make it impossible for us to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.
These atrocities are sliding by relatively easily while the public is in an uproar over SB5, the bill attacking our workers rights and HB194, the voter suppression bill passed under the guise of ‘ensuring things are fair’. While these issues absolutely deserve our outrage (I myself am currently collecting petition signatures to repeal HB194) so do the attacks on our reproductive rights. The more distracted we get, the easier it is for the Conservatives to get ‘wins’ in their chosen corner of social issue warfare. And the more emboldened their misogynist supporters become, the closer we get to waking up one day to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.
Meet The Personhood Amendment, a lovely gift to Ohio from Personhood USA – a group of extremists from Colorado who just don’t know when to quit. As I refuse to link directly to the petition itself, you may read the language by googling “Personhood Ohio”. Go on. I’ll wait.
Please note the line:
The proposed law would not 1. Affect genuine contraception that acts solely by preventing fertilization or the creation of a new human being
What does this translate to, realistically? Condoms. If something this broad were ever passed, the only birth control method legally accessible to women would be barrier methods. If you’ve ever spoken to one of these people, you know that this is their favorite scary, scary thing to say: that because hormonal methods affect a woman’s uterine lining, they may sometimes prevent an already fertilized egg from implanting into the uterine wall, causing it to be flushed out in the menstrual cycle… thereby “murdering an unborn child”. Putting aside the absurdity of equating a fertilized egg with an actual child, the best part about this is that it cannot be definitively proven one way or the other. There is no way to determine whether an egg has been fertilized until approximately two to three weeks after the sex in question has occurred, after the egg is already firmly attached to the uterine wall. This is when your body will begin to produce enough of the the hormone called hCG, or human chorionic gonadotrophin, to be detected by a pregnancy test. Until this hormone can be detected, no pregnancy is considered to have occurred. Not by the medical community, or… well, not by any actual, logical people.
In short, the Antis want to abolish our legal access to birth control based on a hunch. A hunch which would, upon closer examination, actually make (their) God the biggest “abortionist” of all time: an untold number of fertilized eggs are naturally flushed out of the uterus through the menstrual cycle with no intervention from the woman whatsoever. This is often referred to as a Chemical Pregnancy, as a woman wouldn’t even know that an egg was ever fertilized. I wonder if the people behind the Personhood Amendment believe we should have our used tampons checked for fertilized eggs each month to determine whether an “unborn child” has sadly met it’s end?
This is nothing new. Most of us involved in the Pro-Choice community are aware that anti-choicers are not out to “save the babyz!” from abortions, but are in reality set on revoking women’s sexual freedom altogether. They do not want to prevent unwanted pregnancies – they want every (hetero) women who chooses to have sex “suffer the consequences”, the fate of unwanted children be damned. But the American public has long allowed these people to hide under the guise of the “Pro-Life” label. Many who are not involved in reproductive rights activism have no idea that birth control is, and has been from the start, under attack. I think that is both a failure of the beltway media – who pander to the other side as if advocating laws that actively cause harm and sometimes death to those they purport to be concerned about is a perfectly justifiable stance to take while jumping around waving “Pro-Life” banners – and the Pro-Choice movement’s hesitance to be bolder.
Never have I have seen a mainstream reporter say “Sir, what do you propose we do when abortion becomes illegal and women are dying in hospitals all over the country from septic poisoning?” or “Why does your organization oppose birth control methods that could prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place? How do you think sexually active women should prevent having a child?” This just doesn’t happen. If it did, their views that women should just plain Not Fuck, ever, unless it’s for the purpose of procreation would come to light. I imagine a lot of people would be pretty shocked to know this.
It’s left to us to pick up this slack. We are the majority, yet we aren’t nearly as vocal as the Antis are. Because of this, we have legislators in office passing bills such as the aforementioned “Heartbeat Bill”. Bills like this, as well as the “Personhood Amendment” if it were ever to become an actual amendment, are constitutionally unsound. They will most likely be defeated in our courts, after the state wastes an untold amount of money. That’s the best-case scenario. The flip-side, though, is that one of these draconian proposals may end up making it all the way to the Federal Supreme Court. This is exactly their intention. A challenge to Roe v. Wade. Finally, the opportunity they’ve been waiting for – an opportunity to revoke our right NOT to bear children.
We have to get louder. We have to get angrier. We have to take the label of “Pro-Life” and claim it for ourselves; we have to stop the meek pleas of finding a “middle ground” with the opposition. Pro-Choice IS the middle ground. Think abortion is “murder”? Don’t have one. Think birth control is abortion, despite the undeniable medical and scientific evidence otherwise? Don’t use it. I will choose MY own morality, and you’re free to stick your head in the sand when choosing yours. So be it.
Make no mistake – if we continue on this weak path of vague Pro-Choicey-ness, this “Safe, but rare!”, this “Nobody is pro-abortion!” spineless rhetoric, we will continue to see politicians run successful campaigns under the guise of “Saving the Babys!” and we will watch women die from illegal procedures.
We also have to get positive. By this, I mean that we have to remember to acknowledge our state representives when they do something right. Picking up the phone or writing a letter to thank them is just as important as writing to express our dissatisfaction with them.
With that, I leave you with the perfect way to get started in being more vocal. You didn’t think I’d let you get off with just reading this blog post, did you? You can write a personalized message to the following Representatives*, or use the letter that I sent below. Then, you can sign the petition that calls on all members of the Ohio Legislature to pass the Prevention First Act.
You can email (and call!) a Representative here.
To: Rep. Nickie Antonio, Rep. Robert Hagan, Rep. Connie Pillich, Rep. Clayton Luckie, Rep. Kathleen Clyde
Thank you for your recent statements in objection to HB 125, “The Heartbeat Bill”. Ohio’s families are already suffering in the current economic environment, and the last thing we need is Government accompanying us into our doctor’s office.
I am honored to have you as my Representative, and hope that you will continue to serve the best interest of Ohio’s families by fighting to get the Prevention First Act passed into law so that we can make better family planning decisions and protect those in need of help, such as sexual assault victims, instead of denigrating them as other members of the House and Senate seem determined to do.
Your Name (and city of residence)
* Why do these particular Representatives need to be thanked?
Rep. Connie Pillich: “No exception for rape? For incest? For mental health? This is cruel! Where’s the prevention?”
Rep. Clayton Luckie: “I rise today to wonder why this bill is on the floor. We should be here to discuss pregnancy prevention.”
Rep. Kathleen Clyde: “This bill is anti-woman, out of touch, overreaching, and unconstitutional.”
Rep. Bob Hagan: “Look around, women, and see that you’re surrounded by men who are making decisions about your body.”
Rep. Nickie Antonio: “The Ohio legislature should not be practicing medicine without a license.”