Thanks to Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio, the state has became the third this year to pass a “heartbeat” bill which bans abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy. The ban takes effect after the detection of a fetal heartbeat and in many cases, happens before a woman even knows she’s pregnant.
“Heartbeat” bills have passed the legislature in Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee and have been introduced in Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Georgia, South Carolina, and West Virginia. Texas is pushing a bill that would criminalize all abortions, with no exceptions for rape or incest, making it possible to charge a woman with homicide for having the procedure. The state of Texas allows capital punishment for homicide, which means if a woman gets an abortion, she is subjected to the death penalty.
The argument from Republicans wishing to overturn Roe vs. Wade is that preserving life outweighs government interference in personal, medical decisions. Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis said, “The heartbeat bill is the next incremental step in our strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade,” referring to the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion until viability.
Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said the opponents “are out in the open as to their goal” although the fight for abortion rights have been going on for decades. “Gov. DeWine just signed the Ohio law that virtually bans all abortion care. We’ll see you in court,” the national ACLU said.
The Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit group on sexual and reproductive health issues, says the legislation is under consideration in 28 states to ban abortion in different ways. “Trigger bans” would automatically make abortion illegal if Roe vs. Wade is overturned, “method bans” keep providers from performing a specific type of abortion; “reason bans” prohibit abortion based on fetal characteristics, such as sex, race or disability status; and “gestational age bans,” prohibit abortions at a specific point in pregnancy, such as six, 18 or 20 weeks after the last menstrual period.
Thirteen states have introduced legislation that establishes legal protections for abortion or repeals what’s viewed as “outdated” abortion laws. New York joined nine other states in adopting the “Reproductive Health Act” that affirms the right to an abortion until the fetus is viable or when the patient’s life or health is at risk. Similar bills have passed in New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Whoever thought the government would have the authority to rule over a woman’s body.