Gov. Kasich is right, wrong on anti-abortion measures
In vetoing the so-called Heartbeat Bill amendment passed by the Republican-dominated General Assembly, Ohio Gov. John Kasich contended correctly that enactment would have resulted in an expensive and losing court battle.
Yet Republican Kasich signed into law a bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The only exception to the ban is if the mother’s life is in danger. There is no exception if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
There are 13 states that have enacted such a law, and federal courts in two of them have found the 20-week anti-abortion measure to be unconstitutional. Given the legal uncertainties surrounding the measure, why did Kasich sign it?
The obvious answer is that he’s trying to reassure his supporters that while he rejected the Heartbeat Bill, he hasn’t abandoned his long-standing anti-abortion stance.
“I agree with Ohio Right to Life and other leading, pro-life advocates that Senate Bill 127 [the 20-week ban] is the best, most legally sound and sustainable approach to protecting the sanctity of life,” Kasich said. He noted that the new law prohibits termination of “a human pregnancy of a pain-capable unborn child.”
There’s just one problem with the position taken by Kasich and the GOP majority in the Senate and House: Abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy are rare. It’s the height of legislative arrogance – and cynicism – to believe that a woman who has been pregnant for five months would suddenly wake up one morning and decide to have an abortion.
Indeed, a decision to terminate is not made lightly, despite what Republicans may want the public to believe.
A woman who is told by her doctor that giving birth would endanger her life goes through a great deal of soul-searching and talking to her spiritual adviser, family and friends.
Likewise, a woman who becomes pregnant after being raped or being a victim of incest is on an emotional roller coaster before making a decision to terminate.
Numbers do not lie – unlike the politicians who accuse women of having abortions just for convenience.
In Ohio last year, only 145 of the nearly 21,000 abortions performed occurred after 20 weeks. That’s 0.69 percent.
We are confident that if the 145 women who had the heart-wrenching procedure performed were interviewed, all would reveal that they adhered strictly to current state law.
The law forbids all abortions after 24 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest and the mother’s life. For an abortion to be performed between 20 and 24 weeks, there must be a medical finding that the fetus is not viable.
Why, then, did the Republicans in the General Assembly rush in the waning days of the session to push through the “Heartbeat” and “20 weeks” anti- abortion measures?
The answer lies in the future of the U.S. Supreme Court and President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to appoint anti-abortion justices to serve on it.
There is a vacancy on the court resulting from the death of Justice Antonin Scalia that the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate has kept open by refusing to give President Barack Obama’s nominee a hearing.
Democrat Obama chose federal Judge Merrick Garland, a judicial moderate, as Scalia’s successor, but Senate Republicans refused to schedule hearings. It is noteworthy that Garland had the support of Republicans when he was appointed to the federal bench.
It is the height of hypocrisy for Republicans to demand that government keep out of Americans’ lives, but then enact laws that deny women the right to decide what to do with their own bodies.
Indeed, Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis revealed the strategy behind the 20-week ban when he said:
“The 20-week ban was nationally designed to be the vehicle to end abortion in America. It challenges the current national abortion standard and properly moves the legal needle from viability to the baby’s ability to feel pain.”
There should be no doubt that Roe v. Wade is in greater jeopardy today than at any time since 1973 when the Supreme Court made abortion legal.