This article was originally posted as an op-ed at the Columbus Dispatch here.
The Human Rights and Heartbeat Protection Act just passed the Ohio legislature this past week. This bill has been introduced and even passed multiple times over the past eight years with considerable debate as to its impact on our state, and possibly on our nation. As states seem to be drawing battle lines, it’s hard not to feel that the time of reckoning is coming for Roe v. Wade.
Ohio Right to Life has always subscribed to an incremental approach, seeking to protect the lives of women and their unborn babies. With the appointment of two new justices to the United States Supreme Court, we believe that the heartbeat bill is the next step in overturning Roe, a dated precedent that is out of touch with both the culture and medical technology.
The heartbeat bill seeks to prohibit abortion at the point of a detectable heartbeat — a more objective line by medical standards than “the point of viability” standard set by the seven men who decided Roe nearly 50 years ago. In 1973, an unborn baby was considered viable at 28 weeks in pregnancy. Today, babies born prematurely at 23 weeks are routinely provided care in our local NICUs and expected to survive, and some even survive at 21 or 22 weeks. Knowing more today than we have ever before about human life as it develops in the womb, the question we must ask ourselves is this: In every other medical procedure, the intention is to keep the heart beating, so why would anyone defend a procedure that stops a beating heart?
Abortion is the intentional killing of an innocent human being. Last year, Ohio legislators passed and then-Gov. Kasich signed into law our dismemberment abortion ban. Dismemberment abortion, otherwise known as dilation and evacuation (D&E), is a procedure in which the abortionist first dilates the woman’s cervix and then uses steel instruments to dismember and extract the baby from the uterus.
The law would not impede a physician’s ability to perform the same procedure when a woman has miscarried or the baby has already somehow died in the womb (a tragedy on its own); it only would prohibit the procedure on a living, developing unborn baby.
The vast majority of OB-GYNs — 85 percent — do not perform abortions. As pro-life OB-GYN Dr. Alicia Thompson put it in her testimony before the Ohio Senate, “beware of the trope that abortion should be between a woman and her doctor because odds are wildly against the likelihood that ‘her doctor’ is actually performing abortions... So either the doomsday rhetoric is unfactual and inflammatory, and elective abortion is not the linchpin to women’s health and well-being, or nearly everyone in my profession is shirking their responsibilities (to) the detriment of women.”
If what Dr. Thompson says is true, it is worth understanding why more doctors in her profession choose not to participate in abortion. The answer is simply this: They recognize the humanity of the unborn child and the brutality of “a woman’s right to choose.”
The recent movie “Unplanned” showed this brutality in full force in the first 10 minutes, garnering an R-rating from the MPAA due to the “disturbing and bloody images” involved in accurately depicting both a 13-week abortion and the aftermath of a chemical abortion. All it took to convert Planned Parenthood clinic director and protagonist Abby Johnson into a pro-life advocate was witnessing the reality of what happens to a tiny unborn 13-week-old baby during an abortion via ultrasound, a procedure she had counseled women into having thousands of times over eight years.
Most people who have witnessed an abortion understand the gravity of what is happening. In every “successful” abortion, one innocent human must die. From that perspective, it might be a little easier to understand why we advocate so passionately for pro-life legislation: We know what abortion does, and we won’t be silent about it.
Stephanie Ranade Krider is vice president and executive director of Ohio Right to Life.