July 07, 2011

Proud to be an Ohioan

By Andrew Haines *

Not often does Ohio top the charts when it comes to something to be proud of. I would know. I’m from Ohio. We’ve got the Rust Belt, the Cleveland Browns, and the infamously incendiary Cuyahoga River.

But as of last Tuesday, Ohio also has a House-approved bill that would ban abortion after detection of a fetal heartbeat. And that’s nothing to scoff at.

While the bill — which is yet to be approved by the Republican-controlled Ohio Senate — is certain to face massive backlash in the courts, the reality is clear: Ohio’s lawmakers are posturing defiantly against the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. And regardless of the final outcome, the bill represents the new tone many lawmakers are taking up regarding their legislative work. “We’re writing bills for courts,” said Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder.

Maybe most surprising is that the “heartbeat bill” does not contain exceptions for cases of rape and incest — two instances where lawmakers have historically offered a concession to pro-abortion factions. The sweeping language makes clear that Ohio’s legislature — and the citizens who voted for it — aren’t playing games when it comes to defending unborn human life. As Kevin McCullough rightly remarks, “The bottom line is always about the HUMANNESS of the child, which always seems to somehow go unnoticed.”

Also striking about the bill are the curious sentiments it’s produced concerning the role of government in the lives of private citizens. “This bill gives the government the ultimate power,” said Democratic Representative, Connie Pillich, “the ultimate power to intrude upon the most personal and intimate decisions of our lives.” All of this as Pillich and the rest of the Democratic minority struggled to vote down a challenge to abortion coverage under the new federal healthcare law.

Speaking of “the most personal and intimate” matters, demanding that all Americans underwrite infanticide seems a pretty good place to start. And undoubtedly, had a same-sex marriage bill been on the floor at the time, Pillich and her confreres would have had no qualms about voting for government intrusion into a different sort of “personal and intimate” decision. So we can’t take her reaction too seriously.

Regardless, the “heartbeat bill” isn’t law. And even if the Ohio Senate approves it (which seems likely to happen), Pillich and the Democrats might still be in the clear once the judicial dust settles.

The take-away in all of this seems to be that Ohio is leading the way — against great odds — in working to effect legislative decisions giving voice to the fact that more Americans are pro-life than pro-choice. Despite a national social climate that, at all turns, seems to lose sight of the dignity and meaning of human life, a small contingent of lawmakers has come together to produce a bill with remarkably noble aims — and all with the sobering reality of unparalleled opposition clearly in mind.

I, for one, am not sure how the “heartbeat bill” will fare in the coming months. But I’ll be watching its progress eagerly — at the very least, as a sign of hope in the power of reasonableness and truth. That’s something every Ohioan should indeed be proud of.

This article originally appeared at Ethika Politika.
Andrew Haines is president of the Center for Morality in Public Life and a PhD student in Philosophy at The Catholic University of America. He lives in Virginia with his wife, Kathleen, and their son.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.


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