While the nation was praising Wendy Davis and her pink sneakers for filibustering to keep the Texas legislature out of the wombs of women across the state, the Ohio legislature sneaked a sweeping, damaging, and unnecessary anti-choice bill to the necessary state budget. Not only was there no input from the medical community or the public, the bill was also( of course) once more signed by old white men looking to impose their views about what women should and should not do with their bodies.
The Ohio bill is unique for several reasons: It will slash funding for clinics that do not register themselves as surgery units that can quickly transport patients to a nearby hospital. This contention stood in the final bill despite the fact that very few complications occur during abortion procedures. Furthermore, this measure will be used to close the clinics that cannot immediately comply, including many publicly funded Planned Parenthood clinics. According to the Washington Post, “The provisions in Ohio will make it more difficult for family planning groups to receive funding for preventive care; require ultrasounds for anyone seeking an abortion; and limit abortion providers’ ability to get transfer agreements with public hospitals.”
More shocking still is the complete and dangerous redefinition of female biology that the state legislature somehow managed to pass. According to most biology textbooks, conception begins once a fetus has been implanted in a woman’s uterine lining. However, legislators decided to pass laws indicating that this well-known scientific fact is wrong: In their book, conception begins at fertilization, a full week before. This could potentially deem commonly used emergency options, such as the Morning After Pill, as a murder weapon.
Due to the disregard for basic human biological facts exhibited by Republican lawmakers like Ohio Governor John Kasich, a quick review of some basic facts of female biology are in order.
Republican lawmakers are trying to overhaul the entire reproductive system altogether by redefining conception. The sanctions against abortions, even very early ones occurring within days of conception, would be dire for medical providers — despite the fact that most biologists agree conception does not occur until several days after fertilization.
An excellent article by Mother Jones discusses the delusion fostered by right-to-life groups and conservative lawmakers that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks. Their statements are supported by the conclusion of one lone researcher. On the other hand, the many pieces of scientific literature surveyed in an American Journal of Medical Sciences 2005 paper state, "The brain connections required to feel pain are not formed until at least 24 weeks.” Redefining biological facts about fetal pain serves the needs of the right-to-life movement because it limits the time frame in which women can gain access to abortion procedures. For those living in poverty, without health insurance or access to Planned Parenthood’s affordable services, four weeks might be a month too late.
Yes, I just quoted Kendrick Lamar. And yes, I am completely serious. After successfully redefining conception as beginning in the cellular division state, rather than the embryonic stage, I presume the next step would be a ban on emergency contraception such as the Morning After Pill, though it has been recently approved for over-the-counter sales. The intent of lawmakers is to substitute established scientific fact with religious dogma.
Yeah, I know it's hard to believe we have them. Lawmakers' complete disregard for basic biological facts will be permanently stored in our hippocampus, to be conveniently retrieved for the next election cycle. The same women and grassroots activists that you’ve enraged in Ohio and Texas will be present to wave goodbye when you are voted out of public office.