Tuesday, April 18, 2006

BREAKING: Ohio hates women's reproductive rights

Well, as I thought it might, South Dakota's abortion ban has resonated with some folks in other states, and it looks like Ohio is the next state to try to take a moral stand against evil baby killers.  Now, if you leave Ohio bc the law for obtaining an abortion in another state is different and Ohio catches you being naughty, you will be penalized.  In addition, anyone helping someone obtain an illegal abortion in Ohio or elsewhere will be charged as an accomplice.

The passage of South Dakota's statewide abortion ban earlier this month has caused a renewed interest in a proposal to make abortions illegal in Ohio.
Ohio house bill 228 introduced by Tim Brinkman, R-Mount Lookout, in April would make it a felony for a woman to seek to terminate her pregnancy and holds the same penalty if she chooses to leave the state for the medical procedure.

Additionally, anyone who helps coordinate an abortion or transportation to leave the state for one could be charged as well.

The controversial nature of the proposed bill has slowed its progress through the legislature.

"House Bill 228, as far as I know, is still in committee. Some bills take more time to come out of committee. You just never know," said Ohio Rep. John Schlichter, R-Greenfield. "I'm a pro-life person. My voting record has been consistent. I was raised in a Christian home."

There are no plans at this time for the bill to be voted into law. However, many groups on both sides of the reproductive rights issues are giving feedback on it.

"House bill 228 was introduced last year and hasn't really been in committee," said Gary Dougherty, executive director of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Ohio. "We're still concerned about it. Just because a bill doesn't get any hearings, doesn't mean the issue has gone away."

Dougherty said he's addressed the issue of abortion accessibility to members of the state legislature. He urged lawmakers to consider how limiting any woman's access to birth control or abortions is detrimental.

"This bill really opens a Pandora's Box of wide and wild interpretations of the need for abortions," he said. "Planned Parenthood is all about preventing unwanted pregnancies. Abortion accounts for just about 5 percent of what we do."

Planned Parenthood focuses on preventative health measures such as pap smears, mammograms, birth control options and sexual education, including abstinence.

Very few centers actually perform abortions and all patients are informed of what the procedure is in advance. Chillicothe's Planned Parenthood branch, located on East Second Street, solely caters to family planning and basic health issues.

"If we are precluded from offering a service, it's the low-income people who are most affected," said Dougherty. "What we should be doing is trying to prevent unintended pregnancies, so the state is not burdened with the cost of raising the child."

Many of the women who seek abortions already have several children and are unable to support another. Others are young women lacking financial stability, including health insurance.

Although unplanned pregnancies can create financial, psychological and physical hardships for women, some organizations see support as the best way for women to cope.

A new organization called Elizabeth's Hope, on North High Street, wants to show pregnant women abortion should be avoided. The nonprofit group is part of a statewide abortion alternative counseling program called Care Net Pregnancy Center.

"We're here to offer support and discuss options," said Peggy Watters, center director in Chillicothe. "When you're in the middle of a crisis, it's not a good time to make life-altering decisions."

Watters and the volunteers at the center offer post-abortion counseling as well as promoting abstinence.

"When women have an abortion, they deal with one crisis, but may have another one later," she said. "We believe waiting for marriage is the best choice."

Elizabeth's Hope operates totally from donations given by area churches and individuals. There also are volunteers -mothers themselves -who counsel girls and women about pregnancy and being good mothers.

Schlichter said the varying ideas on abortion access will be taken into account when he votes.

"You have to rely on your personal views and your constituent's views," he said. "None of these are one-sided issues."

Folks, considering our location, and the fact that some extreme righties live here already and Delay is on his way over, this is beyond scary. We may have more battles to fight here pretty soon; the Senate race may only be one of the many to come. What I do with my "parts down south" may be safe with Webb, but Allen? I'll be in a chastity belt faster than Bush buys his daughters a keg.


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