What an Ohio Dry Cleaner Has to do With Michigan Politicians

You might have missed this story if you don’t watch The Daily Show or read RH Reality Check, but a dry cleaner in Ohio has been putting “Choose Life” messaging on, of all things, wire coat hangers. This strikes me as a pretty brazen action, and not just because wire coat hangers are, to put it mildly, fairly loaded images when it comes to abortion. It’s also because this dry cleaner is, as best as I can tell, a private business whose day-to-day activities, not to mention income, have nothing to do with the abortion issue.

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Update: Heartbeat Bill Really, Truly Halted … For Now

Seems like just the other week that Ohio politicians were trying to place severe restrictions on when women in the state could have abortions. Oh wait, that’s right, it was: right after the election, anti-choice Republicans began trying to push through a modified version of the previously-failed “heartbeat bill,” which would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat could be detected.

Looks like the second attempt proved no more successful, as on Tuesday the state senate president said that there were no plans to vote on the bill before the legislative session ends in December. According to an Associated Press report, both lawmakers and Ohio Right to Life were concerned that banning abortions at such an early stage (fetal heartbeat can generally be detected by the sixth week of pregnancy) would be unconstitutional and could jeopardize “other abortion limits.” Senate President Tom Niehaus also said that he wants to “continue our focus on jobs and the economy … [t]hat’s what people are concerned about.”

Well, yeah. That’s probably what they were concerned about the first time this bill was introduced, too. Yet a whole bunch of elected politicians still decided that it was more important to grandstand about a blatantly unconstitutional bill, rather than direct their time and energy into more pressing and relevant issues. I’d like to hope that they wouldn’t make that mistake a third time, but let’s be honest, common sense doesn’t seem to be the driving force here.

Ohio Anti-Choicers Resurrect Heartbeat Bill

Less than a week after Barack Obama won Ohio in the presidential election, state Republicans have decided that there’s no time like the present to resurrect a controversial, possibly unconstitutional, and already-rejected bill that would sharply restrict abortions.

The so-called “Heartbeat Bill,” would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat could be detected—which can be as early as 18 days in some pregnancies, or before a lot of women even know they’re pregnant. When the state’s House Health Action Committee first heard testimony on the proposed bill, two of the witnesses to “testify” were fetuses: that is, two pregnant women were given ultrasounds in the hearing room. [Read more...]

Anti-Choice News: The Good, the Bad, and the Ludicrous

Between a massive book deadline and an overseas trip, I feel like I’ve spent the past six weeks totally unaware of any and all current news. Which has been kind of nice, to be honest, but also means that it slipped my notice that the heinous Ohio “heartbeat bill” died a merciful death in the state senate. Turns out that while the state’s house was perfectly fine with allowing abortions to be outlawed as soon as a fetal heartbeat could be detected – which can be as early as six weeks – more rational heads prevailed in the senate, where the measure didn’t even come up for a vote. Interestingly, even a number of anti-choice politicians and activists were against the bill, contending (probably rightly) that it was too extreme to withstand the almost-inevitable court challenge that would follow its passage. While I would have rather seen the bill defeated on the grounds that it’s incredibly restrictive and blatantly places fetal rights above the rights of women, it’s still nice to see that women in Ohio will retain the right to make their own reproductive choices.

In other “hey, remember this crazy anti-choice idea?” news, Arizona Rep. Trent Franks is at it again. Earlier this year, the anti-choice politician decided that, despite not representing the District of Columbia, he was totally entitled to tell women in D.C. what to do with their bodies. Franks introduced the “District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which would ban abortions after 20 weeks in the District, and recently a House subcommittee held hearings on the bill. Franks did not allow Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who actually does represent D.C. residents, to testify at the hearing, although he did see fit to declare late-term abortions “the greatest human rights atrocity in the United States today.” [Read more...]

Nancy Pitts of Women Have Options Describes the Rewards of Pro-Choice Activism

This month’s focus on gratitude would be totally incomplete without a conversation with Nancy Pitts from Women Have Options in Ohio. I met Nancy at the 2011 National Network of Abortions Funds summit. Nancy has been an incredible mentor – and she has helped the Abortion Access Network of Arizona get started.

Find out how Nancy got involved with pro-choice activism, and what drives her work today. And be sure to check out the WHOO Facebook page – you’re guaranteed to receive a daily dose of inspiration if you do.

1. How did you first get involved in the pro-choice movement? And what motivates you to stay involved?
My serious commitment to the movement began just a few years back, when I learned of Women Have Options, Ohio’s statewide abortion fund. Something had been missing in my life: passion, purpose, drive. So I started getting connected with the pro-choice movement. As with many things in life, a chain of introductions and meetings and connections turned into something I could not have foreseen at the outset: joining the board of Women Have Options.

When I first met with the board’s founder and chair, I had never heard of an abortion fund. I was profoundly moved by the discussion. When I had my abortion 15 years ago, I was terrified about being pregnant. But I didn’t worry about how to pay for my abortion. Today, through my work with Women Have Options, I’m paying back my good fortune, because if a woman can’t afford her choice, she doesn’t really have one. [Read more...]

Pro-Choice News Roundup

It’s been a busy week as far as pro-choice news is concerned.  Here’s a roundup in case you missed anything.

Idaho woman challenges the state’s late-term abortion ban – Houston Chronicle
UK is debating mandatory counseling for abortion patients – The Guardian
RU-486 may become available in Australia – The Australian
Kansas told they have to fund Planned Parenthood – Businessweek
What new legal obstacles mean for women in Ohio – RH Reality Check

Ohio Politicians Approve “Heartbeat” Bill

Aw, hell no. Remember the so-called “heartbeat bill” from a few months back? The Ohio House of Representatives was considering a bill that would ban abortions after a heartbeat was detected – which can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy. The hearings for the bill were somewhat sensational, given that the legislature allowed a fetus to “testify.” And either that fetus was really persuasive, or Ohio politicians are that dismissive of women, because the bill has passed the House.

If this bill is enacted into law, it will be the most restrictive abortion law in the country. It’s also a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, which clearly sets the standard at viability. And while a six-week fetus may have a heartbeat, there is absolutely no way that it could survive outside the womb.

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The Amazing Talking Fetus of Ohio

Tomorrow, Ohio politicians will hear testimony concerning the so-called “heartbeat bill.” The AP reports that one of the legislative witnesses to appear before the state House Health Action Committee will be … a fetus

Yes, that’s right. A fetus. Faith2Action, the anti-choice group behind the bill, has scheduled a nine-week-old fetus as a legislative witness. Never mind that a nine-week-old fetus quite literally doesn’t have a voice – all Faith2Action is concerned with is its heartbeat. And so a pregnant woman will appear before the committee and have an ultrasound of her uterus projected on to a screen so that the heartbeat can be shown. In color, no less.

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Ohio Republicans Seek To Outlaw Abortion After Six Weeks

Between LiveAction’s crusade against Planned Parenthood and the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, it’s been a pretty tough couple of weeks for abortion rights. And now a group of Ohio politicians are supporting a bill that would ban abortions at heartbeat. Because, as Representative Mike Henne puts it, “Heartbeat? Life? It just makes sense.”

A heartbeat can be detected anywhere from 18 days to six weeks, so the so-called “heartbeat bill” would outlaw abortions at a much earlier point than accepted law – most notably Roe v. Wade – requires. Not surprisingly, this bill is considered a direct attack on Roe, and its sponsor has said that he hopes the bill will help lead to a Supreme Court decision restricting abortions. As of now, the “heartbeat bill” has a strong chance of passing in the Ohio legislature; and, according to one of its supporters, similar legislation is being considered in Texas, Oklahoma, and Georgia and discussed in Kansas and Arizona.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2006, 88% of all abortions were performed in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. That’s twelve weeks – almost twice as long as the Ohio bill would allow. For many women, those extra weeks mean more time to raise the money to pay for an abortion, to arrange childcare and/or time off work, and, if they live in a state with a mandatory waiting period, to schedule two different appointments with the clinic. That extra time is essential not just for all those reasons, but also because a lot of women don’t realize they’re pregnant until well into the first trimester. But apparently Ohio legislators believe that every woman automatically knows the minute she becomes pregnant, and has the cash on hand for an abortion and a flexible schedule at her disposal. [Read more...]