Good Luck With That Abortion
Ohioans can breathe a sigh of relief! On December 13, pro-life Governor John Kasich vetoed Ohio’s “fetal heartbeat” bill – a bill banning all abortions after six weeks’ gestation, which is the point at which a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
But the news is not all good. Governor Kasich did sign a 20-week abortion ban into law. As anyone who has ever received prenatal care knows, the “big” ultrasound is done at 20 weeks. That’s when you either breathe a sigh of relief because your fetus is healthy, or the technician runs out of the room to fetch a doctor to deliver sad news. Abortions past the 20-week mark are rare, (between 1% and 1.5% of all abortions occur past 20 weeks), and they are often performed in heart-wrenching situations where the parents badly wanted to have a child.
Our President has taken a flippant anti-Roe stance, dismissively saying that the issue should be left to the states. So, what options does a woman from Ohio have? I surveyed the states sharing borders with Ohio. Below, I share my findings and precious few words of comfort.
Indiana made national news when then-Governor, now United States Vice President Mike Pence signed a law requiring that miscarried and aborted fetal remains be cremated or buried. The law is so extreme that it was opposed by pro-life women legislators. Also, you must wait for 18 hours to elapse between your state-mandated counseling session and your abortion procedure. Perhaps you can visit one of Indiana’s beautiful state parks as you mull the decision you had already made when you made interstate travel plans to carry out that decision.
Caveat: If your fetus is past 13 weeks’ gestation, travel elsewhere. As recently as early December 12, 2016, Hoosier women typically traveled to Ohio for their second-trimester abortions. They did this because Indiana law requires second-trimester abortions to be performed in a licensed surgical center or hospital – making the procedure unnecessarily, and often prohibitively, expensive. But now, abortions past 20 weeks are not available in Ohio even in cases of rape or incest. So sad, too bad.
You can always travel east to Pennsylvania. Abortion here is legal until 24 weeks of gestation. And, you can enjoy a mini-vacation, as you must spend 24 hours between your first doctor’s appointment and your abortion. Are you a minor? Bring mom or dad along, unless you can obtain a judicial bypass. The thought of involving the judiciary in my personal life is daunting for me, as an old, white, married, lady lawyer. But maybe post-millennials are bolder than my generation and this is a realistic option for Buckeye girls.
Michigan’s abortion laws are similar to Pennsylvania’s. In addition, there is state-directed “counseling” designed to discourage the patient from having an abortion. Medicaid patients will have to cover the entire cost of the procedure, unless they are rape or incest victims, or the pregnancy is life-endangering.
West Virginia would not be my first choice, as a mere .2% of American abortions occur in this state. But . . . mini-vacation! West Virginia has a 24-hour waiting period as well.
Kentucky’s public employees carry insurance policies which do not cover abortion. The waiting period is a mere 18 hours, but still requires you to be in Kentucky overnight. Also, you will need two medical doctors to determine that the abortion is “necessary.” Public hospitals may not perform an abortion unless the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life.
Angry yet? Good. Donate now to one of the local abortion funds listed here. It may take a few clicks, but you will help a woman in need.
All facts and statistics are from The Guttmacher Institute unless otherwise noted.
Rebecca Zipp is an unapologetic defender of reproductive justice and a Lawyers Club Director.