SURF: Pence and Heartbeat Attack Abortion and Womens’ Healthcare Access

Carmelita Rosner

Three pieces of legislation have attacked abortion in the past two months. Ohio’s “Heartbeat” Bill, which significantly limits the time frame in which a woman can get an abortion, was introduced by Republican state legislators in February. The Pence Amendment, a national bill which cuts Planned Parenthood funding, was passed though the House last weekend. If passed, January’s House Resolution 3 would prohibit the use of government money for health benefit coverage that includes abortion.

Some of these bills, according to Oberlin College Students United for Reproductive Freedom, don’t just attack abortion — they attack all womens’ “right to quality health care.” The “Heartbeat” Bill, introduced on Feb. 9, would make illegal any abortions after a fetus’s heartbeat is detectable.

“Basically, this cuts funding to all other services Planned Parenthood provides,” said Dana Paikowsky, College sophomore and co-chair of SURF. Abortion procedures account for 3 percent of all health services Planned Parenthood offers, according to its website. “[Planned Parenthood] does everything from STI testing to pregnancy tests, providing affordable birth control and other contraceptive measures, youth group, comprehensive sex education, HIV testing.” Planned Parenthood is also a vital resource to low-income women, Paikowsky said.

Paikowsky also said that language in the Pence Amendment, which was voted through the House of Representatives on Feb. 18, implicitly claims that federal money is currently used for abortion services. But a 1975 Hyde amendment prevents this, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. In Congress, Representative Jackie Speier (D–CA) opposed this legislation.

The third piece of legislation, H.R. 3, would render abortions “exorbitantly expensive as well as inaccessible, especially for women who are dependent on health care,” Paikowsky said.

SURF hopes that Oberlin’s national Representative will vote no on H.R. 3 and the Heartbeat, but its members don’t know what to expect.

“Because Marcy Kaptur (D–OH) has a mixed record on issues like these, we’re unsure of how she is going to vote [on H.R.3],” Paikowsky said. “That’s what we’ve been tabling for all over campus and calling Kaptur’s office about. She actually voted no to de-fund Planned Parenthood, which may or may not have been because of our calling. Either way, we know we’re being heard by her office.”

On Sunday night, SURF formed a coalition with the Oberlin College Feminists’ Collective, the Student Senate, Oberlin College Democrats and the American Medical Student Association to release a statement condemning H.R. 3 and asking for Kaptur’s support on what they perceived as threats to women’s health care. They have also has set up petitions and phone banks to help the effort, and report that Oberlin students have been actively involved.

“We all have a hand in this,” Paikowsky said. “We all reproduce, so to speak, so when we take away access to education programs or question when someone can have agency over their own health care, we’re heading down a slippery slope.”