By Michael S. Parker, OB/GYN, Opinion Contributor
Originally published October 19, 2023 in Newsweek / newsweek.com
In Ohio this election cycle, voters are being asked to enshrine two falsehoods into the laws of their state: that abortion is health care and that Ohioans’ elected representatives have no role in abortion-related decisions.
Abortion was illegal in most states until the 1970s, and the medical field understood why. The American Medical Association opposed abortion in most circumstances. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists viewed pregnancy as having two patients. Williams Obstetrics, the leading medical textbook on the subject, describes pregnancy as the successful result of a normal reproductive cycle.
The sexual revolution, the feminist movement, and the introduction of birth control pills changed the public’s view on pregnancy termination. There was suddenly a need to avoid the consequences of open sexual relationships, and to provide a failsafe in case contraceptives did not prevent pregnancy. With the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, a constitutional right to abortion became the law of the land. The recent Dobbs v. Jackson decision corrected the errors in Roe, refuting a constitutional right to abortion and redefining abortion rights in America, but not before Roe changed how the public thought about health care.
The American medical field did not view abortion services as health care until the government stepped in. After that point, any attempt to regulate abortion was denounced as inappropriate government interference in the doctor-patient relationship. But abortion is not health care, and doctor-patient decisions on abortion cannot be government-free.
Health care aims to prevent, treat, or cure disease; to heal injury; and to protect a person’s dignity. No one would dispute that treatment of hypertension or diabetes fulfills these criteria. Treatment of these conditions would not be considered elective or a mere convenience. Treatment returns the patient to a state of health.
Abortion does none of this. Abortion is the direct and intentional killing of an unborn child. Pregnancy is a normal process that, if allowed to continue, results in normally expected outcomes for most women. Abortion interrupts the new life. It causes the death of one patient for the sake of another and causes physical and psychological damage.
Having failed to convince the public that abortion is health care, abortion activists now want to remove government regulations that impact the abortion decision. But eliminating government from the abortion issue is an unachievable goal.
The government will either work for all or oppress the few. Government has a vested interest in the well-being of its citizens, both born and unborn. Its role is to enact common-sense legislation, such as gestational age limits, which protect women and babies from dangerous late-term surgical procedures and respect the lives of unborn children who can feel pain and survive outside the mother’s womb. Clinic safety standards and proper credentialing of providers similarly ensure the performance of safe procedures. The abortion industry wants to prevent such legislation so abortion can occur through all trimesters of pregnancy with minimal burden, interference, or penalty.
This scenario is playing out in Ohio this November. Ohio Issue One proposes to enshrine an individual right to make reproductive decisions, including but not limited to abortion, through an amendment to the state constitution. Under the proposal, the state may not pass legislation that directly or indirectly burdens, penalizes, or interferes with abortion before an unborn child is determined to be viable. (The treating physician—that is, the abortionist—determines viability.) Abortion would be allowed through all stages of pregnancy for a woman’s life or health. Abortion providers could not be held liable for assisting an individual in obtaining abortions.
This amendment goes beyond the “safe, legal, and rare” stance on abortion many politicians express. It would give the abortion industry the power to regulate itself without penalty. Citizens of Ohio would lose their ability to elect individuals to represent their moral values and beliefs regarding life. This amendment will nullify many state laws, including 24-hour waiting periods, clinic safety standards, prohibitions on barbaric dismemberment and partial-birth abortion, and conscience protections for health care workers. Taxpayers will pay for these procedures. Parents will lose the ability to direct the health care of their minor children when seeking abortion. In Michigan, which passed similar legislation, lawmakers are already proposing legislation to erode these laws.
The Ohio amendment goes too far. Its intentionally vague and deceptive language fulfills all of Planned Parenthood’s wishes. Abortion is a billion-dollar industry attempting to achieve monopoly control over the Ohio Constitution. Allowing this power grab would resemble giving Big Oil or Big Pharma the power to regulate themselves. The motive is to protect profit at the expense of safety and people’s lives.
Giving the ability to handle life issues to unelected, out-of-state, big-money organizations will silence the voices of Ohio citizens. Ohio’s government will become a collection agency for the abortion industry, and the legal enforcement arm against citizens who object to abortion. The new constitutional right will silence the voice of life forever.
This amendment is not necessary. If Issue One fails, abortion will still be legal in Ohio. The current “viability” law incorporates almost all that pro-choice advocates wish to achieve with this amendment, while ensuring women’s safety and protecting pain-capable unborn children. Notably, under current law, the people get to keep control of the debate.
Whether you are pro-abortion or pro-life, this amendment goes too far. We can continue discussing abortion limits and safety standards, but not if this amendment passes. Ohioans must up for their voice, to protect women and their unborn children, by rejecting Issue One this November.
Dr. Michael S. Parker is a practicing Board certified OB/GYN near Columbus, Ohio.