This bill will ban all abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. This could ban abortion as early as 6 weeks into pregnancy- a point before most women even know that they are pregnant. The bill also includes additional reporting requirements and medically unnecessary inspections by the Ohio Department of Health.
This bill has a dangerously narrow exception for women's health, and no exceptions for victims of rape or incest or terminations necessary because of fatal fetal anomalies. These dangerously narrow exceptions will put women's lives at risk.
Testimony of Jaime Miracle, Deputy Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, to House Health & Aging Committee Opposing House Bill 248
November 20, 2014
Chairman Wachtmann, Ranking Minority Member Antonio and members of the Ohio House Health & Aging Committee, thank you for hearing my testimony today. My name is Jaime Miracle, and I am the deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. I am here to testify on behalf of our over 20,000 members and activists in opposition to H.B.
The fact that this committee is trying to pass this legislation in such a sneaky quick manner should be highly concerning to everyone on this committee, no matter where they stand on the issue of abortion. If this is such great policy for the state of Ohio, why is the committee scheduling only one hearing on the bill before holding a vote on it, putting the revised committee schedule out after 5pm on Tuesday and requiring that testimony be delivered to committee by 8:30am the next day. This is not the actions of people who believe what they are doing is supported by the public that they supposedly represent. These are the actions of people who want to sneak an unconstitutional bill
through the legislature with as few people as possible paying attention.
The facts couldn’t be more crystal clear. H.B. 248 is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, an effort to put Ohio at the center of one of our nation’s most contentious and costly legal battles. We are here today because some activists and lawmakers want to turn back the clock for Ohio women to a time when the most basic decisions about their futures and their families were made by politicians. But perhaps even more important than why we
are here today are the reasons we are not.
We are not here today because the legal underpinnings of Roe are weak, or because the constitutional right to privacy that encompasses a woman’s right to choose is radical or unsupported by our nation’s legal history. Quite the contrary: The right to privacy is a fundamental constitutional right, and its inclusion of a woman’s right to
choose evolved necessarily from decades of legal precedent.
During the half century leading up to Roe, the Supreme Court decided a series of significant cases in which it recognized a constitutional right to privacy that protects important and deeply personal decisions concerning bodily integrity, identity, and freedom from undue government interference.1 The Court grounded these principles as fundamental to the American concept of liberty in the constitutional right to privacy as the right to decide how to educate one’s children, the right to marry, and the right to be
free from forced sterilization by the government.2
The Court has reaffirmed Roe’s central holding on multiple occasions throughout the past 41 years,3 noting in 1992 that "[t]he soundness of this . . . analysis is apparent from a consideration of the alternative.”4 Without a privacy right that encompasses the right to choose, the Constitution would permit the state to override not only a woman’s decision to terminate her pregnancy but also her choice to carry the pregnancy to term.5 It is also important to note, since Ohio first considered this bill, two other states have passed laws that mirror the provisions in H.B. 248. They both were immediately blocked in court, never going into effect6. Why again is this body proposing to waste valuable tax payer funds to defend this clearly unconstitutional bill? I thought that the goal of this body was to be good stewards of our tax dollars. This bill is the exact
We are also not here today to discuss a law that would protect women’s health. Legal abortion is one of the safest medical procedures available. Less than 0.05% of U.S. women who receive abortion care experience a complication that requires hospitalization.7 Medical research incorporating studies from 21 countries demonstrates that abortion does not increase the risk of major pregnancy complications during future pregnancies or deliveries. There is no added risk of infant mortality or of having a low birth weight infant, nor is there increased risk of infertility, ectopic pregnancy, or miscarriage following an abortion.8 And despite what some have told this committee, most adult women who terminate a pregnancy do not experience mental health
What this bill is is simple. It is a radical ban on abortion which would outlaw the procedure at a point in pregnancy when most women do not yet realize they are pregnant. This measure would virtually eliminate access to legal abortion in Ohio. It does not even provide exceptions for survivors of rape or incest, to protect the pregnant
woman’s health or in cases of fatal fetal anomalies.
This bill is clearly unconstitutional, both at the federal and state level. It was designed to directly challenge Roe v. Wade. Supporters want to push their extreme agenda all the way to the Supreme Court at the expense of the Ohio taxpayer. But this bill is not only in conflict with our federal constitution, it also violates our state constitution, as amended by State Issue 3 in 2011. Article 1, Section 21 (B) now reads "No law or rule shall prohibit the purchase or sale of health care or health insurance.” H.B. 248 does just that, outlawing abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Outlawing abortion will not make it go away. We have all heard stories, many of us from people in our own families, of illegal abortions that happened before Roe. Outlawing abortion makes it dangerous. If women are not able to turn to doctors, if they are not able to go clinics that are inspected by the State of Ohio, where will they go,
who will they turn to? How many of them will be killed or maimed?
Who are these women who have abortions? I think this committee should consider that before they take it upon themselves to make the most personal and private decisions for
Roughly 23,000 women access abortion care in Ohio each year10. But that isn’t the whole story. Sixty percent of the women who chose abortion are already mothers. Ninety percent of them are single. Over 50 percent of them have not yet been to college11. Sixtyfive percent identify as Christian, with 37% identifying as protestant and 28%
identifying as catholic12.
But they are not just statistics. One in three women will have an abortion at some point in her life13. They are the women who raise our children and who care for our elderly parents. They work in our offices and factories. They pay taxes, and they vote. They are leaders in our churches, our schools, and our government. They are the backbone of our families and our state. And yet the sponsors of this bill do not trust them. Why do I say that? Because if they trusted the women of Ohio, as I do, this committee would realize that it does not know enough about the particular situation of each of
these women to make this decision for them.
I appreciate the opportunity for our organization to testify against this dangerous legislation, again, I am disappointed that after four years of Ohioans from every corner of the state opposing this bill that this committee is once again attempting to force its extreme ideology on the people of Ohio. I ask you to vote against H.B. 248. I hope instead to work with lawmakers on both sides of the abortion debate to provide appropriate healthcare for women to reduce unintended pregnancies. Policies like providing better access to Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC) like implants and IUDs, making sure that all Ohioans have the information and resources they need to prevent pregnancy, and to have healthy pregnancies when they decide to bring a child into their family. We need to pass bills that make people healthier and that value the lives and inherent worth of women in our state. That is a goal we should all agree upon, and one that we can achieve together. I hope that this committee sends a clear message that the divisive politics of abortion bans will not be tolerated, and that it trusts women,
by rejecting H.B. 248 in its entirety. Thank you.
1 Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 927 (Blackmun, J., concurring and dissenting). 2 See Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923); Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535 (1942); Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967). 3 See, e.g., Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, Inc., 462 U.S. 416 (1983); Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 476 U.S. 747 (1986); Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), cf. Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003). 4 Casey, 505 U.S. at 859. 5 Casey, 505 U.S. at 859. 6 http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/updates/2013/statetrends42013.html 7 Alan Guttmacher Institute: Induced Abortion in the United States, July 2014. Available at: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html. 8 Boonstra HD et al., Abortion in Women’s Lives, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2006. 9 Major B et al., Report of the Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, 2008, <http://www.apa.org/pi/wpo/mental-health-abortion-report.pdf> 10 John Paulson and Donna Smith, INDUCED ABORTIONS IN OHIO, 2014, Ohio Department of Health, Center for Public Health Statistic and Informatics, Office of Performance Improvement, available at http://www.odh.ohio.gov/~/media/ODH/ASSETS/Files/health%20statistics%20- %20vital%20stats/Induced%20Abortions%20in%20Ohio%202013.ashx . 11 John Paulson and Donna Smith, INDUCED ABORTIONS IN OHIO, 2014, Ohio Department of Health, Center for Public Health Statistic and Informatics, Office of Performance Improvement, available at http://www.odh.ohio.gov/~/media/ODH/ASSETS/Files/health%20statistics%20- %20vital%20stats/Induced%20Abortions%20in%20Ohio%202013.ashx . 12 Jones RK, Finer LB and Singh S, Characteristics of U.S. Abortion Patients, 2008, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2010. 13 STATE FACTS ABOUT ABORTION—OHIO, Guttmacher Institute 2011, available at http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/sfaa/pdf/ohio.pdf