Absurd tactics, blind partisanship propelled Ohio “Heartbeat Bill” through House

Ultrasound images of two fetuses shown to lawmakers during 'heartbeat bill' hearing as testimony
A 9-week-old fetus “testifies” to the Ohio legislature during a hearing on the so-called “heartbeat bill”.

“In politics, absurdity is not a handicap.”
-Napoleon Bonaparte

As you’ve probably heard, yesterday the Ohio House voted 54 to 43 to pass the so-called “heartbeat bill”, which would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detectable. If the bill passes the Senate, it could prevent anyone from accessing an abortion as early as four weeks after conception, when a heartbeat could potentially be detected by a high-quality ultrasound machine.

As Robyn Marty at Alternet reports, this essentially amounts to an almost total ban on abortion in Ohio.

Many longtime pro-choice activists and journalists are calling this bill the most radical that they’ve seen proposed anywhere in the country.

The bill is so extreme, Ohio’s Right to Life group isn’t even on board with it (they support The Viable Infants Protection Act, which would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks when the child is proved to be “viable”).

The hearing for this “heartbeat bill” underscored how absurd it really is, involving “testimony” from a 9-week-old fetus, and making references to fictional plays as “evidence”.

Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for “The Plain Dealer” in Cleveland, described a scene from the bill’s legislative hearing in an interview with Rachel Maddow.

“We‘re watching fetuses testify by ultrasound on a screen, and when the woman was rubbing the jelly on the belly of the woman, and she was only nine weeks pregnant and they couldn’t find a heart beat, she made a joke at one point that if only they had the vaginal probe, then they could get it and a bunch of the men on the committee started chuckling. And at that moment you realize that this has nothing to do with women‘s health. This has nothing to do with protecting life. This has everything to do with playing to their extremist base.

…And I sat there while an attorney from Washington got up and first suggested—not suggested—said that some women who are raped want to have those babies because it is a triumph over their rapist. And I could hear women gasp in the audience and some of them were tearing up. This is cruelty. This is an assault on women‘s rights.

The same lawyer at one point said if Romeo—I‘m not kidding you—if Romeo had known that Juliet still had a heart beat, Romeo would not have killed himself. And I wanted to look around the room and just ask for a show of hands, how many know this is fiction? How many know this was a play?”

[Emphasis added.]

All of which just goes to show that if you have an incredibly extremist position on something, which the majority of the country doesn’t agree with and wouldn’t support if it came to a vote, sometimes it takes some absurdity to get your point across and make a dent on your issue.

It may seem like backers of this bill have forgotten about a lil old case known as Roe v. Wade, or at least are content to ignore it as the law of the land. But all signs indicate that, rather than having forgotten about the case, they are aggressively targeting it, pushing forward bold legislation designed specifically to challenge the famous standard established in Roe v. Wade. The most dangerous thing we could do as pro-choice activists is to dismiss their efforts as without logic.

The Republicans who are behind this bill are extremists. They are risking their political capital, and are willing to lose independent voters, to present a legislative challenge to Roe v. Wade that they view as strategic, with a chance of success. It’s a democratic loophole, a way to change current laws without having the majority of the country on board with what they are doing. And so far, it’s succeeding.

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is Executive Director of Partnerships at Feministing, where she enjoys creating and curating content on gender, race, class, technology, and the media. Lori is also an advocacy and communications professional specializing in sexual and reproductive rights and health, and currently works in the Global Division of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. A graduate of Harvard University, she lives in Brooklyn.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/larkin/ Larkin Callaghan

    This would be hilarious if it wasn’t so depressing.

  • http://feministing.com/members/maggie1/ Maggie

    I am a transplant to Columbus, Ohio from the east coast. I went to Ohio State for my undergraduate education and am heading into my second year of work in Ohio. I ultimately plan on heading to law school.

    Ohio constantly bemoans the fact that it hemorrhages young talent and professionals. This includes both those born in OH and students who attend the many outstanding institutions here. In fact, studies have been commissioned to study the factors behind this “brain drain.” Some of their conclusions have included lack of bike trails and park space (seriously, I couldn’t make that up).

    NEWSFLASH OHIO: IT IS LEGISLATION LIKE THIS. Young people (myself included) are HORRIFIED to live in a state that is taking steps AGAINST progress. This legislation has directly sealed my decision to NOT stay in the state.

    I hope that the legislature continues the long term effects, not simply to reproductive health, but the greater community and economy as it attempts to move forward with this bill. Not only is it bad for women, it’s bad for Ohio.

  • http://feministing.com/members/dawnwest/ Dawn West

    I’ve lived in Ohio my entire life, and this makes me even more eager to get the fuck out of here as soon as possible. I was absolutely infuriated when I heard and read about this yesterday, and I still am. There was a protest in downtown Columbus yesterday morning but I was at work so I missed it. I just can’t believe how extreme this bill is. I expected some crazy bullshit, of course, but not something so incredibly fucking farcical. It’s like they don’t even feel the need to hide their true agenda. They’re also trying to defund Planned Parenthood here, and PP is my primary health care provider, so thanks assholes. The misogyny is just so overwhelming right now.

  • http://feministing.com/members/schneekonigin/ Jennifer

    I’m another person here that grew up in Ohio and words cannot begin to describe how happy I am that I am not currently living there and I plan on never coming back. Although I do miss Ohio State.

  • http://feministing.com/members/triciathekid/ Tricia

    This is ridiculous. I was a victim of incest at a very young age, along with being a victim of rape. Put aside the fact for a moment that our bodies are OURS, not some right wing radical’s property, if said rape had resulted in pregnancy I would have aborted it in a hearteat (no pun intended). If by some crazy occurance I got pregnant at my age, I would abort it. These are the types of things that keep women oppressed; abortion is a right. The idea of using a fetal heartbeat to prevent abortion is an insane tactic that proves just how radical these people are. What are they trying to do, ignite some sort of sympathy for the fetus? Not to sound like some sort of radical here, but a fetus is technically a parasite. These are our bodies. Not battlegrounds.

  • http://feministing.com/members/madeline21/ Madeline

    I am an eighteen-year-old and I’ve lived in Ohio my entire life. It’s really not that interesting of a state to call home – we’re famous for corn, and our football mascot is a poisonous nut – but now I’m outright ashamed. The House of Reps not only passed the heartbeat bill, but two other anti-choice bills, one of which would exclude abortion coverage in health care. Ohio Senator Kris Jordan also plans to introduce a bill that would defund Planned Parenthood in Ohio. Here is a list of emails for Ohio senators. I have already contacted them and put in my two cents about this. Please, don’t let this slide. I’d rather have my lovely home state be boring than the first to overturn Roe v. Wade.

    SD01@senate.state.oh.us, SD02@senate.state.oh.us, SD03@senate.state.oh.us, SD04@senate.state.oh.us, SD05@senate.state.oh.us, SD06@senate.state.oh.us, SD07@senate.state.oh.us, SD08@senate.state.oh.us, SD09@maild.sen.state.oh.us, SD10@senate.state.oh.us, SD11@maild.sen.state.oh.us, SD12@senate.state.oh.us, SD13@senate.state.oh.us, SD14@senate.state.oh.us, SD15@maild.sen.state.oh.us, SD16@senate.state.oh.us, SD17@senate.state.oh.us, SD18@senate.state.oh.us, SD19@senate.state.oh.us, SD20@senate.state.oh.us, SD21@maild.sen.state.oh.us, SD22@senate.state.oh.us, SD23@maild.sen.state.oh.us, SD24@senate.state.oh.us, SD25@maild.sen.state.oh.us, SD26@senate.state.oh.us, SD27@senate.state.oh.us, SD28@maild.sen.state.oh.us, SD29@senate.state.oh.us, SD30@maild.sen.state.oh.us, SD31@senate.state.oh.us, SD32@maild.sen.state.oh.us, SD33@maild.sen.state.oh.us