With the abundance of legislative attacks on the right to abortion, this year has felt quite dystopian. All eyes have been on Texas – where a bill that bans abortion as early as six weeks, before most people know they are pregnant, went into effect earlier this year. Ohio has also seen its fair share of anti-abortion policies. Earlier this year, I wrote about abortion bans in Lebanon and Mason, both cities that sit just north of Cincinnati. Now, I’m here to sound the alarm bells again – this time for a statewide proposal.
Ohio Republicans introduced an abortion ban of their own Tuesday. Like the Texas law, which is facing a U.S. Supreme Court challenge, it would allow any person to sue a doctor who performs an abortion, as well as anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion. A fine of at least $10,000 awaits any person who performs or assists an abortion. The bill, House Bill 480, has already garnered 33 Republican cosponsors and is backed by the Right to Life Action Coalition and Created Equal.
Republican lawmakers didn’t stop there, going even further than the Texas legislation that is the most extreme anti-abortion law in the U.S. Texas’ bill allows abortion until a fetal heartbeat is detected, but the proposed Ohio bill would ban all abortions, no matter how early.
“Make no mistake, Ohio elected officials are doing everything they can to strip Ohioans of their right and ability to access abortion care,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. “This bill would be enforced by deputizing a posse of anti-abortion vigilantes, motivated by $10,000 bounties. This is especially scary because we’ve already seen terrifying threats against abortion providers in Ohio and this will add fuel to that dangerous fire.”
Copeland added that “Black and other women of color as well as trans and non-binary Ohioans will be most scrutinized and targeted by anti-abortion vigilantes. The forces behind these bans are misogynistic, racist, homophobic, and transphobic. This is hatred in legal code form.”
With the Ohio legislature’s Republican supermajority, I am concerned that this bill has a real chance of passing. The introduction of this bill adds even more stakes to the Supreme Court’s review of the Texas law.
I have worries about how the high court will rule. The court’s 6-3 conservative majority, three being justices appointed by former President Donald Trump, is reason enough to have doubts. After the Supreme Court refused to block the Texas bill temporarily, my fear spiked to an all-time high.
However, my worries abated this week as justices, even Trump appointees Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh, expressed concern over the law’s enforcement. Kavanaugh noted that the loophole – allowing private citizens to sue – that the Texas law exploits could stretch to other constitutional rights.
“It could be free speech rights. It could be free exercise of religion rights. It could be Second Amendment rights, if this position is accepted here,” he said.
Though I am slightly less worried, the right to choose is under attack in the state we call home, or at least our home away from home. We need to be heard. We will not let Ohio take away the right to get abortion.