On Dec. 13th, 2016, Ohio Governor John Kasich vetoed the blatantly unconstitutional 6-week ban in favor of the equally unconstitutional 20-week ban. The ban will take effect in 90 days and will make it a fourth-degree felony for a physician to perform an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy except to save the pregnant person’s life, thus criminalizing both doctors and pregnant people with the threat of up to 18 months in prison and loss of a physician’s medical license.
The National Network of Abortion Funds condemns bans on abortion at any point—politicians do not belong in the exam room with abortion providers and their patients.
To be clear, these are not the actions of a moderate politician. In his statements, Governor Kasich has made it abundantly clear that he prioritizes anti-choice legal strategy over the lives and livelihoods of all pregnant people in Ohio, with the heartless tactic of punishing anyone seeking an abortion. Gov. Kasich is not ideologically opposed to banning abortion outright, and is covertly making a calculated decision based on the recommendation of the anti-choice lobby. He does not, and will never prioritize the lives of pregnant people in the state of Ohio. Ohio already has a number of restrictions on abortion that deny access to many—requiring multiple visits, increased costs, and denying coverage for those on state health insurance.
The 20-week ban is an extreme law based on bunk science and misguided values. It violates the long-standing Roe v. Wade decision which guarantees abortion until viability. The ban will result in wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on the lawsuit, much like he is already wasting taxpayer money on deceptive crisis pregnancy centers and anti-abortion advertising campaigns.
Preterm, Inc., which provides abortion and sexual health care, including birth control, STD testing and treatment, and wellness care in Ohio released a statement saying:
“Politicians aren’t medical experts and they have no place interfering in our personal health decisions. When it comes to the most important decisions in life, such as whether and when to become a parent, it is vital that each of us is able to consider all options—with the advice of the health care professionals we trust.
We will not stop providing care and fighting for the rights of our patients. No matter what, Preterm will be here to support our community, providing outstanding abortion and sexual health care with compassion and respect.”
As We Testify Abortion Storyteller Mallory McMaster recently wrote in Cosmopolitan.com in response to the proposed 6-week ban, “All too often, conversations about abortion are focused on politics, and people don’t hear the voices that really matter: those of us who have actually had abortions. If the politicians who passed this bill wanted to understand what they were doing to people in Ohio, they would have held public hearings and listened to stories like mine.”
It is time that politicians listen to those of us who have abortions and the people who love us.
Despite a clear Supreme Court victory with the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case this year, anti-abortion lawmakers have been emboldened by the most anti-abortion incoming administration ever. Once again, legislators have inserted themselves into pregnancy decisions and are robbing Ohioans of the trust they deserve to know what is best for themselves and their families. Bills like this will only force people to leave their home states in seek of abortions, something exclusively those with financial and logistical resources can afford.
Ohio should be offering compassionate support and resources throughout pregnancy, no matter whether we choose to remain pregnant or not. Policies should encourage more doctors to provide us with crucial reproductive healthcare, including abortion. Instead, we see an irresponsible and costly attempt to criminalize and limit abortion at the expense of us all: pregnant people, our families, providers, and taxpayers.
The National Network of Abortion Funds builds power with members to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access by centering people who have abortions and organizing at the intersections of racial, economic, and reproductive justice. In 2014, NNAF and member organizations received 116,000 requests, and assisted 30,000 individuals seeking $3.5 million in funding for abortions, transportation assistance, translation, and childcare.