It’s been a crazy month if you’re a woman in America.
In January, our presidential candidates were talking about moon colonies and how they liked to fire people. In Ohio, all the talk was about earthquakes caused by injecting toxic fracking waste deep underground.
Then something strange happened. Susan G. Komen announced it was defunding Planned Parenthood, launching a national debate about contraception and women’s health (and ending in a PR disaster for Komen).
Next, religious-affiliated employers complained about an Obama administration rule (implementing a provision of health care reform) requiring employee health plans to cover contraception.
By the end of the month, we had Republicans attacking the Girl Scouts as pro-abortion lesbian-sympathizers, Rick Santorum saying contraception is bad for women, Virginia Republicans requiring vaginal penetration for women seeking abortions, and Oklahoma Republicans nearing passage of a law granting personhood rights to fertilized eggs.
Yes folks, the country has gone cuckoo for cocoa puffs. But if you have a Facebook account, even your mom has probably already told you that.
But here’s what you may not know. Ohio’s right wing is moving in lockstep with its brethren in other states.
De-fund Planned Parenthood? Yeah, we’ve got a bill for that. In fact, it’s getting a hearing Tuesday morning in the Ohio House of Representatives committee headed up by Lynn “Let’s ban IUDs” Wachtmann. This is the same committee that refuses to hold hearings on multiple bills (HB281, HB338 and HB419), each aimed at reducing unwanted pregnancies. I guess they are too busy hearing testimony from fetuses. Kris Jordan, champion of women’s rights, has introduced a similarly-worded bill in the State Senate.
Prohibit insurance coverage of abortion? Yes, yes and yes. While everyone was busy paying attention to SB5, the state budget was signed into law, and banned local governments from offering employee health plans with abortion coverage. Late last year, Kasich signed a new law prohibiting insurers participating in the state’s planned health insurance exchange from offering abortion coverage to women. And, while Obama’s revised employer rule satisfied the Catholic employers it actually affected, Ohio’s Attorney General Mike DeWine (Roman Catholic, father of eight) has decided to bring a frivolous lawsuit anyway.
Elevate fertilized eggs to personhood status? Yup. Four dudes (of course!) applied and were approved by Secretary Husted to collect signatures to put a measure on November’s ballot that would make it a crime in Ohio to use an IUD, a birth control ring, the morning-after pill, and potentially even the plain vanilla birth control pill. On the plus side, expecting parents can deduct their unborn kids a full nine months before they actually pop out of the womb, so hey, free money!
Since the start of this legislative term, more anti-abortion bills have been introduced than in any of the past three General Assemblies. And they are becoming law – Kasich has signed six new laws so far in his short term.
Where are the progressives? While Republicans were busy writing legislation to roll back women’s reproductive freedom, at least nine bills or resolutions have introduced so far this term aimed at reducing unwanted pregnancies. Unfortunately, none of them has gotten more than a single hearing.
Here’s hoping in March we can go back to talking about moon colonies. And I nominate Lynn Wachtmann as its first ambassador.