The budget conference committee continues to push back the date on which they plan to release the revised budget bill. We hope one of the sticking points is the bizarre inclusion of anti-abortion language. We hope they have the sense to remove these devisive, misplaced and down-right dangerous provisions from the bill.
Abortion restrictions impacting public hospitals and private insurance plans available to local governments have no place in the budget. And the lack of any kind of health exception puts women in Ohio in serious danger and ties the hands of the doctors that treat them.
Republicans love to rip on “Obamacare” for trying to get in between a doctor and his/her patient. But that is EXACTLY what these provisions do. I could rant on for awhile about this (and I probably will later) but I think Kellie Copeland’s guest piece below does a way better job than I could of explaining the dangers associated with these budget provisions .
Is abortion just politics?
A lot of people consider abortion a political issue. They see candidates and groups talk about the issue when raising money, recruiting volunteers, and attacking their opponents.
So when you hear that eight pieces of legislation limiting women’s access to safe, legal abortion have been introduced in Ohio this year, you might think first about the political implications. How will this impact the next election? How will Rep. so-and-so’s vote on these bills be used by his or her opponent next fall? Will the outcome of these bills favor one political party over another?
Some people may think these restrictions will create only minor obstacles for women seeking abortion care in our state. They may think that these new restrictions won’t harm any women they know.
One in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime. More than likely, that means someone you know has grappled with this personal, private decision.
The Ohio Right to Life Committee and its lackeys, state Senator Kris Jordan and Senate President Tom Niehaus, snuck two abortion-related restrictions into the state budget at the 11th hour when there was no opportunity for public testimony. Then they turned off their phones so none of our supporters could call and complain. Classy.
One of these restrictions would block public hospitals from providing abortion care while another would bar local governments in our state from providing their employees with health insurance that covers abortion. That means no abortion access at public hospitals or for public employees who face an unintended pregnancy or for victims of rape or incest who didn’t report the crime. Those women will be out of luck. It also means no abortion access for women who are facing serious complications from their pregnancies that threaten their health—those women will have to wait until they are about to die to qualify for abortion services at a public hospital or to have that care paid for by their public-employee health insurance.
You see, the political does affect the personal. This is not just a back-and-forth battle between state legislators. These bad ideas affect real women in our lives.
Let me tell you about “Nicole.” Nicole is the mother of two children, one with special needs who requires around-the-clock care. At 20 weeks into her third pregnancy, Nicole found out that her child had a severe fetal anomaly that doctors determined was incompatible with life. That means the child was going to die either in utero or very soon after birth. That particular anomaly also creates much more amniotic fluid than normal. The excess amniotic fluid put Nicole at very high risk for uterine abruption because her second child had been born via an emergency C-section, a procedure that weakened her uterine wall. If she had a uterine abruption, she would more than likely bleed to death. Despite this extreme risk to her health, her insurance refused to cover the procedure, and her doctor and hospital refused to provide an abortion. They sent her home and told her to come back once a month “to see how things were going.”
So Nicole went home, terrified that she would bleed to death in front of her children.
Desperate and with nowhere else to turn, she sent me an email. Did we know anyone who could help?
We referred Nicole to one of the state’s top ob/gyns who specializes in high-risk pregnancies. That doctor convinced Nicole’s insurance company to cover the abortion he provided at a public hospital. Because of this medical care, Nicole is alive today and raising her two children.
Had the provisions proposed in the state budget been law, that doctor would not have been allowed to provide Nicole with the care she needed at one of the top hospitals in our state. Had Nicole’s insurance been provided through a public-employee health insurance plan, she would have been faced with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills—that is, if she was able to find a hospital willing to see her without insurance coverage.
Women will be forced to wait until they are sick enough to qualify for an abortion under this law. Each moment terrified. And for what? Because Ohio Right to Life and some politicians in the Ohio House and Senate are working to make abortion completely inaccessible in our state, one incremental restriction at a time.
Imagine the heartbreak of learning that your baby won’t survive and being told your doctor can’t provide abortion care until you get an infection and your life is in jeopardy. Imagine worrying that you’ll get so sick that they might not be able to save you. What if you’re like Nicole and already raising two children?
We cannot allow the anti-choice forces behind the seven other attacks on abortion care pending in the Ohio General Assembly to go unchecked.
Share Nicole’s story with the people important in your life. Better yet, call up your state representative and senator and tell them to stop the War on Women.
Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio