Today, the Ohio House approved three anti-abortion efforts, including the nation’s most radical anti-abortion bill. Known as the “heartbeat bill,” the legislation prohibits a woman from seeking an abortion if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as “six to seven weeks into pregnancy.” As NARAL Ohio pointed out, the bill targets “a point when many women don’t even know they’re pregnant.” Nonetheless, the GOP-led state House offered a myriad of reasons to drastically roll back a woman’s constitutional right to choose.
However, one state Republican lawmaker in particular found the most extreme reason to vote for the “heartbeat” bill. On the state house floor today, state Rep. Matt Huffman decided that the “heartbeat bill” is a “significant step” in the history of civil rights in all of western civilization. Declaring a fetus to be “a person,” Huffman likened lawmakers who oppose the bill to slave owners who would eventually see the errors of their ways:
HUFFMAN: Really this bill that [state Rep. Lynne Wachtmann (R)] has brought forth is another significant step in a long trail of civil rights, not only in this country but in western civilization. I would guess today, if Thomas Jefferson were here, he’d say “You know, I was probably wrong about that slavery thing.” You know, the drafter of the Declaration of Independence actually owned slaves. He’d probably be willing to admit he was wrong about that, he was an enlightened fellow. George Wallace decided, “You know I was probably wrong about that integration thing,” and he came out and admitted that. Are the folks who don’t believe an unborn child is a person going to admit that? Probably not today,. But maybe someday. And that’s where the march of history is taking us with this bill.
Huffman then simply declared, “I believe an unborn child is a person and is entitled to rights under the Constitution.”
As ThinkProgress’s Marie Diamond reported, this once-fringe position that redefines life as beginning at the moment of fertilization is becoming increasingly more popular among Republican lawmakers. Pushed by the “Personhood” movement, this view would not only prescribe a complete ban on all abortions, it would also “turn common forms of birth control into the legal equivalent of a homicide.” Such laws determine every fertilized egg to be an individual imbued with full rights, and because contraceptives like the pill or intrauterine devices (IUD) can prevent an egg from implanting in a woman’s uterus, they would consider birth control an abortion that is punishable under the law.
According to the Guttamacher Institute’s 2008 study, more than 11 million American women use these forms of birth control and would lose control of their bodies under Huffman’s view. In all his reasoning today, how one reconciles the loss of personal control over one’s body with the civil rights movement is a logic Huffman failed to provide.