News Abortion

In a Room Crowded With Duggars, Ohio Republicans Pledge to Reintroduce Heartbeat Ban

Robin Marty

"We are ready to start the fire again," said state Rep. Christina Hagan at the press conference, which was filled with reporters as well as members of the Duggar family, reality television stars who have become some of the new faces of the evangelical anti-choice movement.

Calling it “round two in the state of Ohio,” state Rep. Christina Hagan (R-Alliance) led a Thursday afternoon press conference to announce that the state’s notorious heartbeat bill will be reintroduced in the house. If passed, the bill would make abortion illegal at as early as four weeks past conception (six weeks after the patient’s last menstrual period), before many people are aware they are pregnant.

“We are ready to start the fire again, and we are ready to go to battle for what we believe is most important in this world, and that is life,” said Hagan at the press conference, which was filled with reporters as well as members of the Duggar family, reality television stars who have become some of the new faces of the evangelical anti-choice movement.

“Did you really think we were going to give up? Really?” asked Janet Porter, whose anti-choice group, Faith2Action, was the force behind the original heartbeat ban. “Not gonna happen.”

“In America, it’s always a great day to work to save unborn babies,” said state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon), addressing critics who asked why he is trying to revive the failed bill, a version of which has already been blocked in court. “To those of you who say there is a war on women, I would remind you the real war on women is the abortionists, the slayers of the young babies, the young girls in their mothers’ womb, those who take their lives. That is the real war on women.”

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Speaking in favor of the ban was Michelle Duggar, matriarch of the 19 Kids and Counting family. With 17 of her 19 children in tow, Duggar spoke against the “baby holocaust” occurring in the United States, a talking point she also used at a Texas press event roughly a month ago: “There is a baby holocaust taking place, where doctors and nurses are paid to take the lives of innocent, unborn children. … If we do not speak up and do something to stop this holocaust, the blood of these little ones will be on our hands.”

Michelle’s oldest son, Josh, was recently named executive director of FRC Action, the political arm of the right-wing Christian group Family Research Council, an avid heartbeat ban supporter.

Proponents of the Ohio ban expressed support for a rash of new heartbeat bills that they say are about to be proposed in states like California and Missouri; they brushed off concerns that all currently passed bans are blocked. One reporter asked Rep. Hagan why the legislature didn’t wait until the North Dakota case was settled before introducing an identical bill. “Because we are Ohio lawmakers,” Hagan replied. (Watch the full press conference here, via Ohio Capital Blog.)

“This was bad legislation a year ago, and it’s bad legislation now,” said Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio President and CEO Stephanie Kight in a statement. “These Ohio legislators seem to be obsessed with regulating women’s health care and their decisions. We need our legislators to work toward expanding health care instead of restricting it. Ohioans don’t support this constant chipping away at access to women’s health care, and we will work to ensure that women’s rights aren’t trampled. Decisions about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy or raise a child must be left to a woman, her family, and her faith, with the counsel of her health-care provider—not politicians.”

The press conference preceded a Thursday evening fundraiser for Faith2Action, which featured the Duggar family. Also speaking at the event was Arkansas state Rep. Jason Rapert (R-Conway), the sponsor of a heartbeat ban in his state that passed earlier this year but was prevented by the courts from being enforced.

News Abortion

Study: United States a ‘Stark Outlier’ in Countries With Legal Abortion, Thanks to Hyde Amendment

Nicole Knight Shine

The study's lead author said the United States' public-funding restriction makes it a "stark outlier among countries where abortion is legal—especially among high-income nations."

The vast majority of countries pay for abortion care, making the United States a global outlier and putting it on par with the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and a handful of Balkan States, a new study in the journal Contraception finds.

A team of researchers conducted two rounds of surveys between 2011 and 2014 in 80 countries where abortion care is legal. They found that 59 countries, or 74 percent of those surveyed, either fully or partially cover terminations using public funding. The United States was one of only ten countries that limits federal funding for abortion care to exceptional cases, such as rape, incest, or life endangerment.

Among the 40 “high-income” countries included in the survey, 31 provided full or partial funding for abortion care—something the United States does not do.

Dr. Daniel Grossman, lead author and director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California (UC) San Francisco, said in a statement announcing the findings that this country’s public-funding restriction makes it a “stark outlier among countries where abortion is legal—especially among high-income nations.”

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

The researchers call on policymakers to make affordable health care a priority.

The federal Hyde Amendment (first passed in 1976 and reauthorized every year thereafter) bans the use of federal dollars for abortion care, except for cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. Seventeen states, as the researchers note, bridge this gap by spending state money on terminations for low-income residents. Of the 14.1 million women enrolled in Medicaid, fewer than half, or 6.7 million, live in states that cover abortion services with state funds.

This funding gap delays abortion care for some people with limited means, who need time to raise money for the procedure, researchers note.

As Jamila Taylor and Yamani Hernandez wrote last year for Rewire, “We have heard first-person accounts of low-income women selling their belongings, going hungry for weeks as they save up their grocery money, or risking eviction by using their rent money to pay for an abortion, because of the Hyde Amendment.”

Public insurance coverage of abortion remains controversial in the United States despite “evidence that cost may create a barrier to access,” the authors observe.

“Women in the US, including those with low incomes, should have access to the highest quality of care, including the full range of reproductive health services,” Grossman said in the statement. “This research indicates there is a global consensus that abortion care should be covered like other health care.”

Earlier research indicated that U.S. women attempting to self-induce abortion cited high cost as a reason.

The team of ANSIRH researchers and Ibis Reproductive Health uncovered a bit of good news, finding that some countries are loosening abortion laws and paying for the procedures.

“Uruguay, as well as Mexico City,” as co-author Kate Grindlay from Ibis Reproductive Health noted in a press release, “legalized abortion in the first trimester in the past decade, and in both cases the service is available free of charge in public hospitals or covered by national insurance.”

News Law and Policy

Ohio Republicans Hit a Legal Snag in Defunding Planned Parenthood Clinics

Michelle D. Anderson

Iris E. Harvey, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, praised the judge’s temporary order. "Politicians have no business restricting women’s health, and today, the court agreed," Harvey said.

A U.S. District Court judge on Monday sided with Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region by temporarily blocking a law that would have cut funding this month for the health-care organization’s 28 Ohio clinics.

Judge Michael Barrett, based in the Southern District of Ohio, allowed a two-week stay in a ruling associated with a Planned Parenthood lawsuit filed on May 11.

Planned Parenthood officials requested a preliminary injunction and filed the lawsuit to stop a state law that would have redirected $1.3 million in state and federal taxpayer funds from its Ohio facilities to other health-care institutions that don’t perform elective or “non-therapeutic” abortion care or contract with organizations that do.

Rep. Bill Patmon of (D-Cleveland) and Rep. Margaret Conditt (R-Butler County) had sponsored the legislation. The measure passed easily through the GOP-controlled Ohio legislature.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Former presidential hopeful and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) signed the bill in February, launching the 90-day ticker until the measure would have become law.

Barrett’s ruling means the law will remain blocked until June 6.

Planned Parenthood officials said in statements that the organization uses the funds to perform crucial services, including free HIV tests, as well sex education for youth in the foster care and juvenile detention systems. The group’s leadership added that the law, if implemented, would have an “outsized impact on groups who have historically faced systemic barriers in accessing quality health care, including people with low incomes and communities of color.”

Barrett, in a 20-page opinion, said politicians who advocated for the law did so to make it difficult for people to access abortion care, according to Reuters.

Iris E. Harvey, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, praised the judge’s temporary order in a statement.

“Today, the courts rejected Governor Kasich and Ohio Legislators’ attack on people who already have the least access to care. … Politicians had gone as far as to claim women can get cancer screenings at food banks. The court just called their bluff,” Harvey said. “Politicians have no business restricting women’s health, and today, the court agreed.”