While people were sitting down to eat dinner on Sunday night in Ohio, Governor John Kasich signed a $62 billion-dollar state budget, which wouldn't really have been all that big a deal to the rest of the country ... if it weren't for the fact that hidden inside that budget were the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, buried into the budget at the final hour by state Republicans. Yup, Ohio now has the most extreme abortion laws in the U.S. -- but they were not written or approved of by the people or for the people.
Not only are the laws attacking Planned Parenthood -- stripping $1.4 million from federal funding -- but here we go again with the mandatory ultrasound and government interference with rape counseling! Forget what doctors and counselors actually want to say to their patients. They'll have to say what the state tells 'em to now. And while they're at it, they now need to redefine "pregnancy" and "fetus" and, by corollary, birth control, according to the legislature.
Yes, the omnibus of provisions also redefines pregnancy and fetus, and under these definitions, many types of birth control -- like IUDs -- will be considered a form of abortion. Thus, if you want birth control, you may need to contend with mandatory ultrasounds and lectures that women seeking abortions are going to be required to undergo, as well.
Abortion providers would have to administer a transvaginal ultrasound to all women seeking abortions (or birth control), and then tell them about the anatomical and physiological characteristics of a fetus at various stages of its development, as well as adoption and alternative family planning options. Then, if you are able to get an abortion, but you develop some sort of medical issue during the procedure, clinics cannot refer you to a public hospital for the care you need. It's gotta be a private one. Some clinics aren't anywhere near a private hospital, so they'll have to close their doors.
And wait, there's more! Rape crisis clinic counselors cannot tell sexual assault victims about abortions. If they do, they could lose public funding. Completely sick and INSANE!
Ohio Democrats like Rep. Connie Pillich agree that had the measures gone through the normal committee protest and been subject to public scrutiny, they would have had to face the outrage of many opposed Ohioans. They probably had visions of what's going on in Texas with Wendy Davis and "the citizens' filibuster" right now dancing in their heads. And by golly, they would stand for none of that. So they just made up Ohioans' minds for them.
Even if you support these extreme measures, how can ANY American support blatant backdoor politics like this? In which controversial laws are buried in a state budget so that there's absolutely no room for debate? To say it's egregious and horrifyingly counter to our democratic values and system is an understatement.
So, now what? Ohio Dems cannot exercise their right to referendum on these draconian measures -- which go into effect on MONDAY, by the way -- because they are in the budget bill. She says the only hope now is that Democrats are elected to Ohio statewide offices, so they can make things right.
For more info, check out Rachel Maddow's analysis and interview with Rep. Pillich ...
How do you feel about these extreme measures being passed sneakily at the last minute in a budget without any sort of debate or input from the Ohio public?
Image via MSNBC