It probably seems like every vote is important to abortion rights and freedoms, but the 2018 midterm elections were especially crucial. A number of new laws were passed (or even passed again), and Planned Parenthood once again has a tough road ahead. If you weren’t watching, there were important decisions made in Ohio, Alabama, West Virginia, and Oregon. Here’s everything you need to know.
Ohio’s House of Representatives passed a controversial “heartbeat” bill that would criminalize abortions performed if a fetal heartbeat was present at the time. This is particularly threatening to doctors who perform the operations. Ultrasounds are capable of detecting a heartbeat by week six. This early into a pregnancy, many women don’t even realize they’re pregnant. Adding insult to injury, the state does not recognize cases of rape or incest as a legal reason to perform an abortion after this timeframe has elapsed.
There is only one exception to the new law: when a woman’s life could be saved by the operation.
An earlier Ohio bill prevented abortions after 20 weeks had elapsed.
Alabama passed Amendment two with 61 percent approval. Under the new provision, the state would no longer be required to help fund abortion or protect a parent’s right to an abortion. The justification was made on the grounds of protecting the “sanctity” of the unborn life.
West Virginia passed Amendment one with only 52 percent approval, which essentially declares the same. No funding, and no right to abortion under state law.
Meanwhile, residents of Oregon destroyed Measure 106 with 63 percent opposition. The bill would have meant that abortion funding could only be provided when federally mandated or medically relevant.
The heartbeat provision of Ohio’s law in particular represents a threat to Roe v. Wade. The net result of the election at the federal level is a pro-life majority which means even more opposition in the future, because pro-life conservative representatives and senators will no doubt continue to confirm pro-life judges. This means the number of pro-life or anti-abortion federal laws in the future.
Then again, Planned Parenthood seemed satisfied with the election results, because it means a pro-choice majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. No doubt the eternal struggle will continue.