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Women Deserve, Demand Right to Body and Choice

Proposed abortion bills deny women fundamental constitutional rights

Ohio+Governor+John+Kasich+speaks+at+New+Hampshire+First+in+the+Nation+Primary+event+on+Jan.+23%2C+2016.++
Ohio Governor John Kasich speaks at New Hampshire First in the Nation Primary event on Jan. 23, 2016.

Ohio Governor John Kasich speaks at New Hampshire First in the Nation Primary event on Jan. 23, 2016.

Michael Vadon

Michael Vadon

Ohio Governor John Kasich speaks at New Hampshire First in the Nation Primary event on Jan. 23, 2016.

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And we thought 2016 couldn’t get any worse.

Tuesday, Dec. 6, Ohio lawmakers sent the “Heartbeat Bill” to Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s desk, attached last-minute to an unrelated child abuse bill. Kasich’s signature or non-action in the next 10 days will pass the bill, which prohibits abortions once the embryo’s heartbeat is detectable — typically around six weeks. This includes rape and incest cases.

This is potentially a significant loss for pro-choice advocates, but it is also an ugly blemish for the pro-life movement.

Many women aren’t aware of their pregnancy by six weeks. The embryo, not considered a fetus until week 10, is far too small to physically detect; by eight weeks, it’s only “a little bigger than the top of a pencil eraser,” according to the Mayo Clinic website. The Heartbeat Bill is essentially banning abortion completely, considering that it takes a woman an average of four weeks to discover her menstrual cycle has halted, leaving a maximum two-week window to plan and obtain a doctor’s appointment.

Abortion bans do not decrease abortion rates. “The global abortion rate was stable between 2003 and 2008, with rates of 19 and 28 abortions per 1000 women aged 15-55 years, respectively,” according to The Lancet’s 2012 study of abortion trends. Women will not stop getting pregnant because of a new law, nor will they stop getting abortions. However, they will need to find alternative places to get abortions, outside a regulated doctor’s office or clinic. The Lancet’s study showed that “49 percent of abortions were unsafe in 2008, compared to 44 percent in 1995.” Inflicting impossible restrictions on women’s reproductive rights will not slow this increasing danger; if anything, it will spike the numbers.

Not to mention, the bill directly challenges the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which secured a woman’s right to control her body. Said court case has been a target for president-elect Donald Trump, who has verbalized plans to overturn Roe v. Wade if his future appointed Supreme Court Justice sees fit. The president-elect was credited by Ohio Senate President Keith Faber as an inspiration for the Republican legislature’s actions. “New president, new Supreme Court justice appointees, change the dynamic,” he said after the vote.

This bill isn’t necessarily a win for pro-life advocates such as Donald Trump. In fact, the pro-life organization Ohio Right to Life favors the second abortion bill in Ohio, passed on Wednesday, which would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This ban is no better for the pro-choice movement, and denies women rights established by Roe v. Wade.

Right here, right now, Ohio has to decide just how “equal” America truly is. Will women be protected under the law, or will our decisions about our own bodies be made for us by lawmakers?

I hope that in 10 days I am able to credit John Kasich for vetoing this bill and protecting my unalienable, constitutional rights. I hope that my sister, mother, neighbors, friends and fellow citizens have control over what they do with their own bodies and lives. I hope after this ends, I have the right to myself.

My body, my choice.

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The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization
Women Deserve, Demand Right to Body and Choice