The following reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board*
With your intention to sign the so-called “heartbeat bill,” we here at The Student thought we’d give you the pulse on how that decision would play to your voters here on your alma mater’s campus.
To catch our readers up to speed: The bill is one of the most extreme proposed abortion laws in the country – so extreme, it was vetoed by former Ohio Governor and former Tea Party member, John Kasich. That’s how you know it’s bad.
During Kasich’s time in office alone, the state passed 20 laws restricting abortion access. Yet he vetoed this specific bill because he felt it could be declared unconstitutional and put the state through a costly court battle.
Now, two senators are set to reintroduce the bill, and it has the full backing of Ohio Right to Life, an anti-abortion nonprofit that is one of the most influential lobbying groups at the Ohio Statehouse. According to OpenSecrets, Ohio Right to Life spent $270,000 lobbying the Statehouse in 2018.
The passage of this will surely mark the beginning to an extended legal saga — one that could ultimately culminate in the conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and Casey V. Planned Parenthood.
After all, in the same interview where you said you would sign the bill, you also said, “Ultimately, this will work its way up to the United States Supreme Court. And they’ll make that decision.”
But with your political experience of nearly 43 years, you are no fool. You must be highly aware of the impact these actions could have on the lives of women across the State of Ohio.
Governor DeWine, you know signing this bill is the kindling to spark an ugly, aggressive attack on Ohio women’s right to choose what to do with their own bodies. This bill only serves the monied conservative lobby – and guarantees harm to the real people you were elected to serve.
Currently, there are only seven abortion clinics statewide. Most are located in major cities. The closest clinic for Oxford residents is in Cincinnati which is about an hour away. The ratio of patient to provider is 843,479:1.
People give this bill too much credit when they say it “ignores” the medical fact that most women cannot tell if they are pregnant until around four weeks of pregnancy, and a fetal heartbeat can be detected around six weeks of pregnancy.
No, the truth is this bill was strategically crafted to take advantage of how pregnancy works and, essentially, outlaw abortion in Ohio. By signing this bill, Governor DeWine would effectively strip Ohio Women of their right to control their own bodies.
In a perfect world where a woman knows she’s pregnant exactly at the four week mark, that only leaves two weeks for her to legally get an abortion. Given that aforementioned patient-to-provider-ratio, it seems unlikely there will be available appointments. If that tiny, two-week window closes, the doctor who performs the procedure could be charged with a fifth-degree felony.
Even if a woman were to be a victim of rape or incest, she would be out of options because the “heartbeat bill” doesn’t seem to have a heart.
But, Governor DeWine, you have the chance to find yours. Do not support this bill. Do not put Ohio on the map as potentially the most repressive state for women in the United States.
There are bigger issues to solve. Your legislative agenda should be filled with plans to legitimately fix Ohio’s opioid epidemic and hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the havoc they’ve wreaked across our state. You should increase funding to test the backlog of rape kits throughout Ohio – like the ones collected last week here in Oxford.
If you learned anything during your years at Miami, Governor DeWine, you might have learned we are supposed to love and honor the dignity of our fellow citizens. We hope you find it in yourself to do so now, and honor the rights of women in the State of Ohio.
The Majority of the Editorial Board of The Miami Student
*While the majority opposed the bill, a few members did not align with the majority. They voiced differing and personal opinions on the topic of abortion. While the majority board elected to go forward with the thoughts presented in this open letter, we aimed to make sure alternative voices were heard and open discussion was fostered.