Ohio's Lame Duck Congress Revives 'War On Women'

 @ashleyportero on November 19 2012 3:29 PM
Abortion Debate
Lawmakers in Ohio have revived efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and limit abortion services in the final weeks of its legislative session. Reuters

Voters across the nation may have rejected radical, anti-choice legislation on Election Day, but that hasn’t stopped Ohio lawmakers from introducing new abortion bans while simultaneously stalling a comprehensive sex education bill.

The Ohio legislature is sparring over several bills regarding women’s reproductive health in the final weeks of a two-year legislative session, with a Republican-dominated House panel last week endorsing a measure that would cut off funding for the state’s Planned Parenthood family planning clinics. During that same meeting, the Dayton Daily News reports GOP lawmakers also introduced a misleading “sex selective” abortion ban that experts believe hardly occurs in the United States.

Lawmakers are also attempting to advance an extreme Heartbeat Bill that would prohibit abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Because a fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, opponents argue it is violates Roe v. Wade, which states abortions are permissible until a fetus reaches the point of viability.

But even as lawmakers redouble their efforts to ban abortion in Ohio, they have ignored practical legislation intended to actually reduce unplanned pregnancies. Which, at the end of the day, would reduce the need for abortion services.

A Democratic-backed sex education bill had its first -- and most likely last -- hearing last week, according to the Dayton Daily News, which reports Republican Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, the chairman of the House Health and Aging Committee, said he gave it a “complimentary hearing.”

Known as the Prevention First Act, the measure would establish standards for the treatment of sexual assault victims, create a state teen pregnancy task force and require comprehensive HIV/AIDS education in public schools. It would also mandate that schools place less of a focus on promoting abstinence, which studies have shown do not reduce sexual activity among teens and young adults, in favor of a science-based sexual health curriculum.

Republicans deny their legislative agenda is representative of a revived “war on women.”

“There are Democrats who call us anti-woman -- they are abhorrent, crazy people intent on killing every baby they can,” said Wachtmann, who happens to be the sponsor of the Heartbeat Bill.

States that push abstinence-based sex education programs have the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the nation, according to an April report form the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That same study found that teens who received comprehensive sex education were considerably more likely to use contraception and were 60 percent less likely to experience an unplanned pregnancy.

Those facts make it even more incredible that Ohio lawmakers are pushing for the collapse of the state’s Planned Parenthood affiliates, which provides health and contraception services for an estimated 100,000 women.

Approximately 93 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services are not abortion-related, focusing on preventive care such as cancer screenings and birth control consultations.

Last week, the United Nations for the first time said access to contraception is a universal human right, declaring it dramatically improves the lives of women and children in poor countries.

The global body said legal, cultural or financial barriers to accessing birth control is an infringement of women’s rights.

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