Those Ohio voters who proved decisive in the presidential election were women and minorities. You would expect the results to register with the Republican majorities at the Statehouse. Do better with these voting blocs, and the Republican Party would move into a stronger position to capture the White House.
Yet that kind of thinking doesn’t appear ready to take hold. State lawmakers are launching a lame-duck session this week, and one of the first items on the majority agenda is legislation that would punish Planned Parenthood. The bill would establish a formula for routing federal family-planning dollars, the criteria cooked to ensure that Planned Parenthood falls to the bottom of the priority list.
At stake for the organization is roughly $1.7 million that goes to birth control and preventative care. Planned Parenthood long has been a target because it provides access to abortions. It remains true that abortion is legal, and a responsible choice. Worth emphasis, too, is that Planned Parenthood has become an indispensable health-care provider in many communities, where women can obtain cancer screenings and other services and tests.
If the concern is public health, a legislature should not seek to set back Planned Parenthood.
Neither should it go to the extreme of all but ending the right to an abortion. That would be the practical effect of the “heartbeat bill.” As originally proposed, it would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, or six or seven weeks into a pregnancy, when many women do not know they are pregnant. A person performing a procedure violating the ban would face a felony charge.
Now there is talk of crafting a compromise proposal, easing concerns of anti-abortion groups who argue the bill is too extreme. Hard to believe the concept can be squared with what the U.S. Supreme Court has held: An undue burden should not be placed on a woman’s right to choose.