Heartbeat Bill Disturbingly Unconstitutional

Jordan Yonkofski, Contributing Writer

The Ohio Congress passed the anti-abortion “Heartbeat Bill” Tuesday in a move that gravely threatens the constitutional rights of pregnant people. The bill prevents a pregnant person from getting an abortion once the heartbeat of the fetus can be detected. This would outlaw a majority of abortions, since a heartbeat can be detected in utero as early as six weeks after conception. At this point in a pregnancy, many people don’t even know that they are pregnant. If the Heartbeat Bill is signed into law, Ohio would have some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the U.S.

The bill was approved Tuesday evening by the Ohio Senate and proceeded to the Ohio House of Representatives, where it passed within hours. The bill now moves to Governor John Kasich, who has the power to veto the bill or sign it into law. I urge you to call Kasich’s office to express concerns over this unconstitutional bill and request that he veto it.

The Heartbeat Bill does not include exceptions for those seeking an abortion due to incest or rape, but it does make an exception if the child-bearer’s life is in danger. It seems that in the eyes of the Ohio law, pregnant people must risk death to have a choice regarding their own health and body.

This would be a step in the wrong direction toward comprehensive reproductive rights. Roe v. Wade granted a pregnant person the right to choose whether or not they want to carry the pregnancy to term based on an implied Constitutional right to privacy. Arkansas and North Dakota have passed similar bills to the Heartbeat Bill that were later deemed unconstitutional. In a different year, this would make me hopeful that this bill would soon be overturned by courts if passed into law. But given that President-elect Donald Trump has stated his intention to appoint anti-abortion Supreme Court justices, the courts may not be a reliable recourse.

Like many others, the members of the Ohio Congress are emboldened by Trump’s promised infringement on citizens’ rights. They feel that since the President-elect has gotten to the Oval Office by threatening the rights of marginalized Americans, they can get away with it too.

Amid Donald Trump’s threats to appoint anti-abortion Supreme Court justices and defund Planned Parenthood, it is easy to feel that the Heartbeat Bill is just the first step to taking away our constitutional rights. It doesn’t help that Kasich is a Republican who has already asserted himself to be a supporter of the pro-life movement.

When I first found out about the bill, I couldn’t help but feel that it was already a done deal. I felt that there wasn’t anything I could do to convince Kasich, an old male Republican, that my choices about my own body are more important than his partisan garbage.

I can’t afford to think that way, though, and neither can you. It is now more important than ever to make your voice be heard by your representatives. They cannot ignore us if we do not stop calling. They will not be able to ignore hundreds of voices begging them to listen. By contacting Kasich, you are using the democratic system to your advantage. Your voice has a great deal of influence, but only if you use it.

Please call Governor Kasich at (614) 466-3555 or contact him online through his website and urge him to veto this bill. Reproductive rights have not gotten this far just to be snatched out from under our feet.