Commentary

11.26.14

The So-Called “Heartbeat Bill” Gets Revived

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Another day, another attempt to promote government intrusion into the lives of thousands of women and their doctors.

Last week, the Ohio House Health and Aging Committee snuck onto its agenda House Bill 248 (HB 248), often called the “Heartbeat Bill,” which restricts reproductive freedom and promotes poor health care practices and overreaching governance. Thursday morning, the committee rapidly heard testimony on the bill. Later the same afternoon, it was voted out of committee, entirely along party lines.

This extremely invasive and controversial bill aims to ban abortions in Ohio once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks. The bill contains no exceptions for survivors of sexual violence or incest. The bill also claims there is an exception to prevent the death or serious harm of the pregnant woman, but this exception still subjects the woman and the physician performing the abortion to government authority and review.

Read the ACLU of Ohio’s testimony.

In other words, HB 248, led by Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon), operates on the alarming assumption that the government—not a woman or her doctor—knows what is best for her and her family.

It’s Back!

House Bill 248 is not new to the state of Ohio.

In 2011, the Ohio House passed basically the same bill, which disappeared shortly after in the Senate. The current version, HB 248, was originally introduced in August of 2013, only now to resurface in November of 2014.

We can attribute this return to the time of the year.

The Ohio General Assembly is currently in its lame-duck session, which refers to the time when current elected officials meet before the newly elected officials take office in the New Year. Therefore, the post-election period often is used as a time to rush highly controversial bills through committee agendas and to floor votes as fast as possible, without public scrutiny.

The speed by which HB 248 moved through committee was wrong and against the principles of good governance. Laws affecting Ohioans’ health care should not be rushed through committee with little chance for public scrutiny.

It’s evident that the bill’s supporters do not want to bring attention to the fact that they are irresponsibly pushing a bill that is unconstitutional.

No One’s Safe From an Intrusive Government

Reproductive freedom is a matter of liberty and privacy. HB 248 represents everything that is contrary to these values. It places politicians directly in between a woman and her family’s health care decision, going as far as to legislate doctors’ advice and practices.

A government that restricts reproductive freedom is a government that has power over reproduction. Perhaps six-week abortions bans are just the beginning.

What about mandatory Caesarean sections?

Or limiting how many children you can have like the one-child policy in China?

HB 248 leads to this type of a reality.

An Expensive Pursuit For a Misguided Cause

Similar to the last time the Ohio House attempted to force the Heartbeat Bill to a vote, HB 248 supporters hope it will lead to an eventual overturning of Roe v. Wade, the case that first recognized a woman’s right to choose an abortion.

Do not be fooled by this delusion.

A comparable law in Arkansas already has been rejected by a federal court and another one in North Dakota is currently pending. The ACLU of Ohio immediately will file a lawsuit challenging the bill if and when it passes into law. This means that the state will undergo years of litigation that will cost the Ohio taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, all thanks to HB 248 supporters.

The state of Ohio cannot afford to undergo the years of costly idleness that HB 248 would create. Ohioans deserve representatives who are interested in promoting constitutional bills rather than crippling government overreach.

A Call to Action

Take Action! Tell House Speaker Bill Batchelder to keep HB 248 from a vote on the House floor!

Ohio has far too many critical issues that need addressed by state government.

So why are our legislators frantically pushing a bill that interferes with a family’s ability to make their own health care decisions, privately?

This is a question that demands to be asked.

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