Representatives of the Rape Lobby in the Ohio General Assembly have introduced a new bill, HB 287, which would make it a misdemeanour for a woman to get an abortion, regardless of whether the foetus is viable, without the "written informed consent" of the "father" (perhaps "sperm donor" would be the more appropriate term) of the foetus. There is no exception for women who do not know the identity of the "father"; they must submit a list of possible "fathers" and obtain paternity tests from each of them, at their own expense. Nor is there an exception for women who were impregnated by abusive spouses or boyfriends, who are often in mortal danger if their abusers find out of attempts to get an abortion. Rape victims are required to file and submit a police report - regardless of whether there is any chance of prosecution - before getting an abortion, thus exposing them to a heightened danger of reprisals.
This threat should be taken seriously. While it may not pass, the events of the past year should serve to disabuse us all of any optimism about the chances of defeating or invalidating legislation like this. The man who, in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, said that a man should have as much control over his adult wife as he does over his minor daughter (Samuel Alito) is now on the Supreme Court. Women's rights are in greater danger now than they have been in the past twenty years. This bill may ultimately be defeated, but we cannot leave it up to chance, nor can we leave it up to a federal judiciary that has abdicated its role as protectors of the Constitution.
Ohioans have the power to amend the State constitution by referendum. If a State law is invalidated on "independent and adequate" state-law grounds, the federal courts can't stand in the way of its invalidation. Accordingly, I would suggest that we attempt to get the following constitutional amendments on the ballot as soon as possible:
Equal Rights, Nondiscrimination. (1) No person shall be denied any right, privilege, or immunity on the basis of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, ethnicity, or national origin.
(2) No branch or agency of the government of the State of Ohio may discriminate against any person on the basis of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, ethnicity, or national origin.
(3) All branches and agencies of the government of the State of Ohio shall have the power and the duty to establish and protect the substantive equality of all persons without regard to race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, ethnicity, or national origin.
(4) Nothing in the foregoing shall be construed to prohibit any measure taken by any public or private institution to remedy or prevent discrimination.
Bodily Integrity, Self-Determination. (1) No branch or agency of the government of the State of Ohio shall abridge the right of all persons to bodily integrity and self-determination.
(2) Such right of bodily integrity and self-determination shall include, without limitation, the right to take measures to prevent or terminate pregnancy.