It’s almost as if we have got in a time machine and travelled back to the early 70s, with debates over the legality of abortion in full swing in the United States.
45 years have passed since Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that declared abortion a legal right under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and yet Ohio officials are threatening to pass a bill to reverse that decision in their court rooms, with no exceptions to cases of rape or incest.
The implications of illegalising abortion would be profound. Especially when considering that this bill would see foetuses, or “unborn humans”, as people falling under state criminal homicide status. That means that life in prison or the death penalty would not be such a far off prospect for women who had an abortion, and even something that doctors assisting might face harsh punishment for.
State representative Ron Hood was reported as saying, “we make it very clear in the state of Ohio we consider the unborn child a person just like you, me or any other person that has a right to life,”
There has long been debates over where the line should be drawn in regards to abortion. Roe V. Wade saw the point of foetal viability as the line in the sand, whilst this bill sees to revoke the right completely.
President Trump, who once claimed the label of “very pro-choice,” is now eating his words and singing a new tune. He has spoken of wanting Supreme Court justices who would repeal the laws set out by Roe, despite acknowledging that such a move wouldn’t stop women in their efforts to have abortions.
As if his stance was not clear enough, during Trump’s first week in office, he brought back the Mexico City Policy, a move that meant non-governmental organisations that provide support for and decriminalise abortions were banned from providing any federal funding.
The outrage over bills like this is hardly surprising considering the extremely polarising nature of the topic. America remains a country with strong Christian roots, and whilst being more progressive in certain aspects, this is something that many have failed to get on board with.
Perhaps the most controversial feature of this bill is how it horrifically would not exclude rape victims or incestuous impregnations; both of which put the women at risk.
Imagine being legally tied to the man who had assaulted you. Not only are you traumatised from the attack, potentially multiple attacks, you are bound to that very same man for life. A child growing up in that kind of environment cannot be expected to have any semblance of quality of life.
Pregnancies that come about due to incest could not only have major health implications for the child, but for the mother as well, dooming two lives. Some would argue that aborting a child before it can feel pain, rather than making them live in crippling agony for years, is the more humane route. Obviously, there’s levels of severity that will affect each case and therefore these sort of issues should always be tackled on a case by case issue once past a certain point.
Pro-choice advocates point out the potential for countless children being born into unhappy homes that can’t financially or emotionally support them, being forced into the not always reliable foster system or living with debilitating diseases.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio communications manager Gabriel Mann, who previously worked with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, had this to say: “This isn’t your normal abortion ban. This is a plan to end access to all abortion services in the state of Ohio,”
Others argue that it is better to give a child a chance at a life than none at all. They argue that no one has the right to take a life, no matter than the circumstance.
This bill would take away what many see as a fundamental right for women. It’s seemingly harmless to the men who back the bill, but for the thousands of families it will impact, this could have terrible consequences.
Abortion isn’t something that most women take lightly, for some, it is the only option. If passed, this bill could be the domino that knocks down abortion rights in many other states.