One of the more contentious battles in Ohio these days is over the “heartbeat” abortion bill, which would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected by an examiner.
The bill, labeled as House Bill 69, would carry a penalty of a fifth-degree felony if abortions are performed after the heartbeat is heard. While there are exceptions for the mother’s life, there are currently none for cases of rape and incest, reports The Toledo Blade.
One of the more vocal opponents of the bill is Ohio State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) who revealed in an emotional lecture on Thursday (Mar. 26) that she was a victim of rape while she served in the military and elected to have an abortion.
“You don’t respect my reason, my rape, my abortion, and I guarantee you there are other women who should stand up with me and be courageous enough to speak that voice,” said Fedor. “What you’re doing is so fundamentally inhuman, unconstitutional, and I’ve sat here too long.”
During her plea, she also invoked her faith.
“I dare any one of you to judge me, because there’s only one judge I’m going to face," Fedoer stated. "I dare you to walk in my shoes ... This debate is purely political. I understand your story, but you don’t understand mine. I’m grateful for that freedom. It is a personal decision, and how dare government get into my business.”
However, other politicians felt differently, also using their own personal experiences to justify their support of the legislation. One of those was State Rep. Ron Hood (R-Ashville), whose wife gave birth to his stillborn son.
“It wasn’t until that moment that I was gripped with the irony," he said. "My wife and I so desperately wanted our son to take a breath, to be alive – that there are people who actually do this on purpose."
Despite Fedor’s impassioned speech, the bill passed the Ohio House 55-40. It advances to the State Senate, which voted down a previous attempt of this law just two years ago. Gov. John Kasich (R) has also said he would veto the bill if it came to his desk.
Ohio’s Right to Life group has also refused to support the proposed legislation, saying it would likely lose to current federal regulations, a la Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 abortion law that allows for abortions for up to the 24th week of pregnancy.
The “heartbeat” bill was initially drafted and debated last year; it was ultimately voted down by the Republican majority in the Ohio State House. After the Republicans won more seats in the chamber in the November 2014 elections, it was able to pass this year based on the House members being more conservative than in years’ past.
Photo Credit: TeresaFedor.com, WikiCommons