Two nights ago I posted about a last-second anti-woman amendment to the Ohio budget, which awaits Governor Kasich’s signature. Because of the large quantity of commentary, I’d like to clarify with a second post.
The lens for viewing the last-second undebated ultrasound provision in the Ohio budget is that of Personhood, not of Heartbeat legislation. Why? Because it defines “pregnancy” as:
the human female reproductive condition that begins with fertilization, when the woman is carrying the developing human offspring, and that is calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period of the woman.
And it defines “fetus” as:
the human offspring developing during pregnancy from the moment of conception and includes the embryonic stage of development.
The provision isn’t specific, but the Ohio Revised Code defines “abortion” as:
the purposeful termination of a human pregnancy by any person, including the pregnant woman herself, with an intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus or embryo.
In the context of this provision of the Ohio budget, “abortion” no longer means abortion because “pregnancy” no longer means pregnancy. The appropriate way to read each use of the word “abortion” is:
the purposeful termination of [a fertilized egg]… with an intention other than… to remove a dead [fertilized egg].
As commenters on the original piece have shown, many people think that hormonal birth control frequently terminates a fertilized egg.
That belief is crucial to the enforcement of the law, regardless of evidence.
The failure of a physician to satisfy the conditions of division (B) of this section prior to [terminating a fertilized egg] may be the basis of both of the following:
(1) A civil action for compensatory and exemplary damages as described in division (H) of this section;
(2) Disciplinary action under section 4731.22 of the Revised Code.
The civil action is brought by the woman who believes that The Pill Kills. The disciplinary action is brought by the Ohio medical board as laid out in Section F(1):
Any person may report to the board in a signed writing any information that the person may have that appears to show a violation of any provision of this chapter or any rule adopted under it…. Each complaint or allegation of a violation received by the board shall be assigned a case number and shall be recorded by the board.
The president of Ohio Right To Life was appointed to the Ohio medical board by Governor Kasich.
Any woman who is prescribed hormonal birth control and believes that it blocked the implantation of a fertilized egg can file a civil action. Upon the filing of that civil action, the Ohio medical board will be required to launch an investigation; that investigation will surely be led by Ohio Right to Life, as have the Toledo transfer-agreement investigations.
The results of that investigation will use the word “abortion” to mean “the prescription of hormonal birth control”. The resultant headlines will read “Ohio woman: Doctor tricked me into abortion” and “Ohio medical board investigates illegal abortions at family planning clinic” and “Gosnell in Ohio?”.
Those headlines are the point of the whole thing.
The investigation will be dismissed, but the damage will be done. This is how it has worked in Toledo, under the 2011 budget provision: public pressure from selective leaks and a credulous media has resulted in the isolation of an abortion provider.
And just like the law never says “birth control”, the leaks from the Ohio medical board will never say “birth control”. Local news stories will never say “birth control”. Even once it comes out that the story is about Mirena or Plan B, journalistic neutrality will give equal validity to the perspective that hormonal birth control causes abortions.
So, to be clear, I don’t expect gynecologists to lose the court fights. I expect Ohio Right to Life to win the PR fights.
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