There’s so much bizarre and extreme antichoice legislation being proposed in the states now, it’s hard to decide which is worst. But, at the risk of neglecting such standouts as Iowa, Virginia and Georgia, let’s focus today on Ohio, where a 9-week=old fetus recently “testified” on the state House floor.
What’s that you say? A fetus can’t testify? Well if you can’t suspend a little disbelief in the name of fun-with-fetuses, then Ohio is definitely not the state for you. Fully half the House members there are now sponsoring the “Heartbeat Bill,” which would outlaw abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is audible. The bill’s main backers—the crazy Janet Porter and her attention-grabbing group Faith2Action group—even filled the statehouse with red, mylar heart balloons. Get it—hearts? Babies have hearts!
A standing-room-only crowd was, in fact, treated to the heartbeat of a 15-week-old fetus at the hearing. The heartbeat of the 9-week-old fetus, meanwhile, was a little harder to hear. It took about ten minutes for the ultrasonographer to detect it and even then it wasn’t particularly clear. The Cleveland Plain Dealer described it as “faintly audible and hard to distinguish.”
The person you didn’t hear at all at the hearing is a 25-year-old Ohio woman who wanted to speak out against the bill. That’s because the woman, whom we’ll call Nicole, wasn’t allowed to testify. Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, had asked Lynn Wachtmann, chair of the Health and Aging Committee,
whether this young woman might be able to testify against the bill. (I figured I’d throw in his picture here, as I really like his red-patterned tie.)
Because Nicole is the mother of two children—one of whom is severely disabled, and requires her round-the-clock care—she wanted to be able to testify by video. Alas, Wachtmann, who is one of the co-sponsors of the Heartbeat Bill, denied the request, saying the technical difficulties were too challenging. This was apparently before he figured out how to project the sonograms in realtime—presumably on the same screen on which she would have appeared.
Anyway, since she didn’t get to talk in front of the lawmakers deciding the fate of her and all the other women of Ohio, I figured I’d tell you a little bit of Nicole’s story, which she just shared with me over the phone.