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Commentary: Ohio state budget abortion provisions are politics as usual

Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks to a crowd of journalists at the Ohio Newspaper Association conference on Feb. 13.

Courtesy of ONA Student News Bureau

Monumental. Extreme. Groundbreaking. Radical. Ideological agenda. This is some of the jargon that has been employed to describe Ohio’s new provisions tucked into the two-year state budget that was signed by Gov. John Kasich July 1.

Among the provisions are requirements for those planning to have an abortion to undergo an ultrasound to detect a fetal heartbeat. If one is found, the doctor must notify the woman. Budget cuts to Planned Parenthood and a restriction on transfers for women who may need care during or following an abortion are also provisions.

Considering none of the provisions affect a woman’s right to choose and looking beyond the opaque partisan-mudslinging, some of the decisions may not be all that profound.

Democrats have assailed the provision mandating women to receive an ultrasound to try to detect a heartbeat before reaching a final verdict on undergoing an abortion, saying that it enlists an unnecessary medical procedure and puts undue emotional burdens onto the pregnant mother. Democrats and pro-choice supporters stand on a woman’s ability to make an informed decision after gathering all facts. Staunch pro-choice supporter President Barack Obama wrote in his 2005 book “The Audacity of Hope” that “few women (make) the decision to terminate a pregnancy casually” and stated in a 2007 Democratic debate that he trusted women to “make the decision in conjunction with their doctors.” Considering his position at the forefront of many of those who consider themselves pro-choice, it may be puzzling to see how the Democratic ideology conflicts with the “heartbeat provision.” The new requirement simply adds additional medical criteria supplied by doctors for consideration, perhaps a more palpable factor for the mother to take measure.

Secondly, toggling the funds that Planned Parenthood receives should be the least startling of the provisions included in the budget. Funding or cutting Planned Parenthood is a political fight year in and year out. A budget battle that nearly shut the federal government down in the spring of 2011 catapulted Planned Parenthood into the middle as the foremost bargaining chip. It’s no secret that many Democrats support the organization and many Republicans do not. To imply that the recent cuts by a Republican administration are “startling” or “shocking” is an overstatement intended to exacerbate partisan opposition.

The transfer provision states that clinics must make agreements with private hospitals so that they can transfer patients there in cases of emergency. Barring the transfer of patients who may require care in the midst of or following an abortion to public hospitals seeks to sever a relationship between taxpayer funds and abortions. Democrats assert that the law may force a select few clinics out of business, implying that it is the responsibility of a Republican administration to keep them open. That may be either over or understated based on your own analysis, but it is necessary to implement a framework that does not breed a mingling of public tax dollars and abortion practices.

Essentially, the provisions seem to have resulted in politics as usual. One party believes one thing, the other disagrees and the party who holds fewer seats revolts at the other’s ability to make its ideas into policy. Whether or not the merits and consequences of these provisions call to mind the terminology being used is for you to decide.

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