Apparently the Ohio Republican Party’s dog and pony – er, fetus and pony – show is over for another election cycle. Hearings on the total abortion ban are over, with no further action expected. Thanks for coming.
I don’t find it easy to be pro-choice. Someone recently asked in comments to the PhAQs what I meant by moderate on abortion. Three things, really. First and second, I am less comfortable with late-term abortions and more comfortable with parental notification than most pro-choicers. Third – and this is the essence of the thing – while I don’t think an early term abortion ends a human life, it certainly ends the life of something that, in an ideal world, wouldn’t have to die. I acknowledge that, at the risk of getting hooted down by pro-choice absolutists.
Anyway, at times I envy the simplicity of saying, “It’s a human life, protect it at all costs.” But the abortion ban considered this time around gives lie to that simplicity. By banning the procedure even to save the life of a mother, the advocates move from Party of Life to Party of Dead Women.
What’s remarkable about all this is the rare break in discipline in the anti-abortion ranks. The anti-abortion movement since Roe has been a marvel of political craft. People who believe they are working for the ultimate in absolutes have nonetheless strategically proposed incremental that find favor with otherwise pro-choice majorities – cooling off, parental notification, bans on state funding. In a series of deft strokes the anti-abortion movement has whittled down the right guaranteed in Roe and shaved support off the pro-choice majority and painted pro-choice groups as extremists. Looked at purely as tactic, it has been a thing of beauty.
Like the South Dakota law before it, the Ohio law abandons that strategy for a base-mobilizing, choir-preaching bill that could reverse decades of political gain. Indeed the bill appears to be an attempt to be more prolifier than South Dakota – after all, those bankrupt plains state moral relativists wrote in an exception to save the life of the mother.
In addition to being strategically suspect, the Ohio law points out the chinks in the moral absolutism of the pro-life position. A woman with an anencephalitic baby – a baby with no brain, no chance to survive more than a few days – who will die if she tries to take it to term must take it to term. Yes, it’s an outlier case, but it becomes much harder to gloss the Democrats as the Party of Death when you embrace policies that end in Death 2, Life 0.
None of which matters because it was all a farce to begin with. If you doubt that, look no further than Right to Life Ohio’s position. They refused to endorse because the bill would have repealed all abortion laws – including popular restrictions like parental notification and Ohio’s “partial birth abortion” ban. Clearly the sponsors of the bill did not intend this thing to be taken seriously.
Meanwhile, Democrats have a well-crafted alternative. Senator Teresa Fedor and Rep. Tyrone Yates have introduced the Prevention First bill. It would:
- Demand data-driven decisions on funding sponsoring effective sex education.
- Require insurance to pay for contraception.
- Put money into state family planning programs
- Broaden access to morning-after contraception.