Blog Post

When Legislators Play Doctor, Women Pay the Price: Sheva’s Story

Senate Bill 127, which would ban abortion in Ohio at 20 weeks, has passed through the Ohio Senate and is currently awaiting committee hearings in the House. If passed, this ban would impact women such as Sheva Guy, who, after receiving heartbreaking news about her pregnancy, was forced to travel 300 miles for the medical care she required.

Email your Ohio state legislators to halt this abortion ban.

Sheva’s Story.

When Sheva was 22 weeks pregnant, her husband accompanied her to the doctor for a routine, second-trimester ultrasound. The happy couple was thrilled to learn they were having a girl. Their excitement turned to anxiety, though, when the technician struggled to get organ measurements. Unable to give the couple any answers, the doctor sent Sheva to a high-risk pregnancy specialist at a different hospital.

After hours of waiting and two more ultrasounds, Sheva and her husband received the terrible news.

[The high-risk doctor] diagnosed our baby girl with a severe and fatal spinal abnormality. I had little to no amniotic fluid left, and the baby’s organs were barely visible. Her growth was severely stunted and it was possible she didn’t even have kidneys. She would not live much longer. I burst into tears and began to sob uncontrollably. I could not stop myself; the tears just kept coming. My husband was being so strong for me, but I could tell he was devastated.

We asked if there was anything they could do or if there was any chance our baby would get better. The doctor said no… We made the decision [to terminate the pregnancy] quickly because I didn’t want my baby to suffer, and I didn’t want to put myself in harm’s way.

With no time to think and her emotions overloaded, Sheva was forced by Ohio law to act quickly to schedule an abortion. At 22 weeks and 3 days pregnant, however, she was already too far along to get the procedure at her local Planned Parenthood. She was referred to an abortion provider near Dayton, but the clinic could not schedule an appointment in time.

I was terrified beyond belief. I couldn’t let my baby die inside me and force myself to go through induced labor. I couldn’t continue this pregnancy. Dayton referred me to Chicago, the closest place I could go to terminate my pregnancy this late, and I made an appointment for two days later. So, my husband, his parents, and I had to drop everything and schedule a trip to Chicago. We didn’t have time to mourn. The law wouldn’t let us have any time. We had to pick up and go.

We arrived in Chicago at around 2pm on Thursday. My appointment was at 4:30. I had to have another ultrasound and was forced to see my baby girl one last time. Even though I was at 22 weeks, my baby was only measuring at 18 weeks and I had even less amniotic fluid than before. Almost none. My insurance would still not cover the procedure. I was dilated the next day, a Friday, and had the procedure on Saturday. And then I was done. We drove home on Sunday and I began to weep as we left the city. I was forced to go all the way to Chicago to have a medical procedure that I should have been able to have in my hometown.

SB 127 will harm Ohio women

Existing Ohio law made it impossible for Sheva to receive abortion care in Ohio. Because most fetal anomalies cannot be diagnosed before 20 weeks, SB 127 would prevent more Ohio women like Sheva, who are facing the difficult decision to terminate a wanted pregnancy, from receiving the care they need in our state. If passed, the bill would effectively eliminate all options for women without the financial resources to travel for abortion care.

Every pregnancy is different.

We cannot presume to know all the circumstances surrounding a woman’s personal and private medical decision to have an abortion.

No matter why a woman decides to terminate her pregnancy, she deserves access to compassionate care in her community. Every woman should be able to make this incredibly personal decision in consultation with those she trusts most—and without interference from legislators with no medical expertise.

This post is brought to you in partnership with ACLU Ohio.


Help build a pro-choice Ohio. Every day, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio fights to protect access to the full range of reproductive health care options—including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and safe & legal abortion care. We educate the public about the real threat to women’s healthcare posed by anti-choice legislation and policies. We mobilize pro-choice Ohioans to take political action to defend reproductive rights. And we are the voice for Ohio’s abortion clinics, helping them navigate the increasingly hostile climate created by extremist groups. But we need your help. As a member organization, we rely on your financial support to fund our important legislative, educational, and grassroots activities.

Contribute to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio

Podcasts

All of the anti-abortion bills in Ohio (Podcast)

NARAL’s The Morning After is on iTunes! Find our Podcast here: http://bit.ly/naralpodcast

This week, Randi, Jaime, and Gabe discuss ALL of the anti-abortion legislation in Ohio. As the Ohio House and Senate return for session this autumn, we review the bad bills that are under current consideration. We’ll return next week with a look at good legislation to restore abortion access and funding.

6-week abortion ban (AKA the “heartbeat” bill) — HB 69, sponsored by Rep. Christina Hagan.
This unconstitutional bill bans all abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detectible, without exception for rape, incest, or the health of the mother. This bill would effectively ban all abortion in Ohio.
HB 69 was approved by the Ohio House and is currently dormant in the Ohio Senate

20-week abortion ban — HB 117, sponsored by Rep. Kristina Roegner, Rep. Robert R. Cupp; SB 127, sponsored by Sen. Peggy Lehner and Sen. Shannon Jones
This unconstitutional bill bans abortion based on a false belief that a fetus develops pain sensitivity at 20 weeks in development. Ohio law already bans abortion at viability, around 24 weeks.
HB 117 is dormant in the Ohio House
SB 127 was approved by the Ohio Senate and is currently moving in the Ohio House

Down syndrome abortion ban — HB 135, sponsored by Rep. David Hall and Rep. Sarah LaTourette
This unconstitutional bill bans any abortion following a pre-natal diagnosis for Down syndrome.
HB 135 is is moving in the Ohio House, with a floor vote expected in 2015

Defunding Planned Parenthood — HB 294, sponsored by Rep. Bill Patmon, Rep. Margaret Conditt; SB 214, sponsored by Sen. Keith Faber; HB 257, sponsored by John Becker
Ohio “reprioritized” family planning funding in 2013, ending a fair bidding process for women’s health funding. The new defunding bills attempt to stop Planned Parenthood from receiving funding for HIV/AIDS programs, reducing infant mortality, treating breast and cervical cancer, and administering comprehensive sex education programs.
HB 294 is moving in the Ohio House
SB 214 is moving in the Ohio Senate
HB 257 is dormant in the Ohio House

Fetal tissue restrictions — SB 203, sponsored by Sen. Frank LaRose
Following the heavily-edited videos attacking Planned Parenthood in other states, SB 203 attempts to ban any use of fetal tissue for research and any product derived from such research. These banned products may include common vaccines to multiple deadly diseases. Current Ohio law already bans the sale or use of fetal tissue in research.
SB 203 is dormant in the Ohio Senate

Medical abortion restrictions — HB 255, sponsored by Rep. Thomas E. Brinkman, Jr. and Rep. Christina Hagan
Current Ohio law severely restricts the use of abortion drugs, such as Mifepristone or RU-486. Ohio physicians must use the medication as dictated by the FDA, even if a physician knows it is in the best interest of the patient to receive a smaller dose. The results are increased patient costs and side-effects from additional medication. HB 255 continues to complicate rules around the use of these medications.
HB 255 is dormant in the Ohio House

NARAL’s The Morning After is a production of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.

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Help build a pro-choice Ohio. Every day, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio fights to protect access to the full range of reproductive health care options—including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and safe & legal abortion care. We educate the public about the real threat to women’s healthcare posed by anti-choice legislation and policies. We mobilize pro-choice Ohioans to take political action to defend reproductive rights. And we are the voice for Ohio’s abortion clinics, helping them navigate the increasingly hostile climate created by extremist groups. But we need your help. As a member organization, we rely on your financial support to fund our important legislative, educational, and grassroots activities.

Contribute to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio

Podcasts

NARAL’s The Morning After — September 24, 2015

NARAL’s The Morning After is on iTunes! Find our Podcast here: http://bit.ly/naralpodcast

This week, Jaime, Randi, and Gabe discuss the Emmys and the terrific speech by Viola Davis. Ms. Davis gets our That’s What She Said of the week for shining a light on racial inequality in roles for women. They also talk about Uzo Aduba, who won a supporting actress award for Orange is the New Black.

The US Senate blocked a 20-week abortion ban, and is still considering defunding Planned Parenthood. The most extreme opponents of abortion rights in Congress, led by Ohio’s Jim Jordan, are threatening to shut down the federal government is defunding language is not passed.

At the state level, defunding Planned Parenthood continues to be discussed, as does the bill to ban abortion following a positive prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. John Kasich promised to sign that bill, which earned him this week’s Walk of Shame.

We talk about Ohio’s Issue 1, which would fix legislative districts. NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio has endorsed Issue 1.

The #ShoutYourAbortion and #MenForChoice twitter campaigns were a success this week.

The Title IX Sports Report returns to celebrate Kent State Kicker April Goss becomes the second woman ever to score a point in an NCAA football game.

Finally, we invite you to join us at two Comedy for Choice events in the Let’s Get It On segment.

NARAL’s The Morning After is a production of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.

Itunes

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Help build a pro-choice Ohio. Every day, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio fights to protect access to the full range of reproductive health care options—including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and safe & legal abortion care. We educate the public about the real threat to women’s healthcare posed by anti-choice legislation and policies. We mobilize pro-choice Ohioans to take political action to defend reproductive rights. And we are the voice for Ohio’s abortion clinics, helping them navigate the increasingly hostile climate created by extremist groups. But we need your help. As a member organization, we rely on your financial support to fund our important legislative, educational, and grassroots activities.

Contribute to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio

2, Blog Post

Cruel Action by Ohio Senate Targets Women at Most Vulnerable Moment

Update – Here are your next opportunities for action:

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The Ohio Senate voted to approve Senate Bill 127, the 20-week abortion ban. The fast-track floor vote on this extremely controversial legislation comes just hours after a vote by the Senate Health Committee. This legislation violates Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeast Pennsylvania v. Casey by banning abortion prior to viability and is opposed by the ACLU of Ohio. Medical groups like Physicians for Reproductive Health and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio oppose this legislation due to the threat it poses to women’s health. The Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Health also opposes this legislation on the grounds of religious liberty.

The Health Committee rejected an amendment by Sen. Charleta Tavares to add exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the mother. Sen. Peggy Lehner spoke in opposition to the amendment because the health-of-the-woman exception was “broad and vague.” NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio believes that legislation allowing for life-saving medical care for women should be broad, giving physicians every opportunity to provide care without concern for the personal views of anti-choice legislators.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “This is retaliation legislation. Following the decision by Lucas County Judge Myron Duhart to keep Capital Care Network open in Toledo, anti-women politicians are scrambling to score points with lobbyists opposing abortion rights.

“The 20-week abortion ban sacrifices the health and reproductive rights of women at their most vulnerable moment: most women targeted by this bill are suffering from medical complications with a wanted pregnancy. Doctors shouldn’t have their hands tied by legislators, they need to be able to treat their patients in the way that is best for their patient and their family.”

Offering testimony to the Health Committee was a woman who experienced a tragic pregnancy. Marla said: “During a routine ultrasound just after 20 weeks, my doctor started the conversation by telling us that Samuel’s heart was on the wrong side of his body.” Marla told of having to travel outside Ohio to terminate the wanted pregnancy because of post-viability restrictions signed by John Kasich in 2011. SB 127 targets women just like her. (Full testimony at: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/committee/health-and-human-services)

Also opposing the bill in committee was Erika, a fourth-year medical student at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. She testified before committee: “This bill was invented out of emotion and not science. It interferes with the doctor-patient relationship and prevents physicians from practicing evidence-based medicine. It would deny Ohio women access to safe and legal abortion. If enacted into law, this bill would compromise my ability to care for my patients and to offer them the best medical care available.”


Help build a pro-choice Ohio. Every day, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio fights to protect access to the full range of reproductive health care options—including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and safe & legal abortion care. We educate the public about the real threat to women’s healthcare posed by anti-choice legislation and policies. We mobilize pro-choice Ohioans to take political action to defend reproductive rights. And we are the voice for Ohio’s abortion clinics, helping them navigate the increasingly hostile climate created by extremist groups. But we need your help. As a member organization, we rely on your financial support to fund our important legislative, educational, and grassroots activities.

Contribute to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio

2, Blog Post

20-week abortion ban witness: Marla’s story

In committee before the Ohio Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, Marla shared her story:

I am a happily married mother of three beautiful children. Last summer, my husband and I were thrilled to discover that we were pregnant with our fourth child – a boy we came to name Samuel. After yet another extremely uneventful and healthy pregnancy, my happiness was swallowed up by the unimaginable. During a routine ultrasound just after 20 weeks, my doctor started the conversation by telling us that Samuel’s heart was on the wrong side of his body. He went on with a long list of other profound issues: Samuel had a diaphragmatic hernia, his intestines and stomach were developing inside of his chest cavity, he was missing part of his brain, his lungs were just not developing inside his tiny little body, etc.

I cannot possibly put into words what that moment in my life felt like. That feeling was something that no parent should have to feel. Further testing revealed that Samuel suffered from a lethal chromosomal disorder called Trisomy 9. Trisomy 9 is not compatible with life.

Our options were laid out for us in very basic language. 1) We could continue the pregnancy. My body would quite possibly continue keeping Samuel alive for the next few months. When the pregnancy reached term, I would deliver Samuel and watch him suffocate to death in pain and agony. At 9 months, his little body would not work well enough for him to take a breath, or to cry, or to be held by his mother, but it would work well enough so that he could feel the pain of slowly dying while I watched. 2) I could end the pregnancy and give Samuel dignity knowing that he never felt pain or suffering – only that his parents loved him more deeply than anyone could ever imagine.

As we reached our decision on how to end Samuel’s short life I realized that whatever I chose, my ultimate goal was to make sure that my son never suffered in this life. I spoke with my doctors, my minister, my family and friends. But mostly I reached deep inside myself and I made my decision based on what was best for my son, my three living children, and myself and my husband. I decided to take Samuel off of his ‘life support’ and end the pregnancy.

Because one of the most important moments in my life involved bringing three beautiful children into this world, it was important to me to give Samuel that same opportunity. As I slowly began dealing with the fact that my son was never going to live the life that I had dreamed for him, I also started making my plans for his entry into this world. I wanted him born in a hospital. I wanted him baptized. I wanted to hold him immediately. I wanted as many pictures and memories as I could get in the few short hours that I would have with him.

But then reality slapped me in the face. I couldn’t do any of that in Ohio: it was illegal. My wishes to say goodbye to my son with love and dignity are apparently illegal. My doctor did her best to explain the laws to me, but even she seemed confused. Abortion after 20 weeks was a sensitive topic regardless of the reasons. I was given the opportunity to visit a wonderful clinic very close to my house to have a late term clinical abortion. It was convenient, very recommended, and the procedure was legal in Ohio up to 24 weeks for medical reasons – I was just over 22 weeks at that point. But I also couldn’t see my son, hold my son, or say good bye to my son. And that is something a mother should never be denied.

If I couldn’t provide Samuel with the life that I wanted for him as his parent, then I was going to make sure that I could provide him with the death that I wanted for him as his parent. With the help of my doctors, I was put in contact with an amazing hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where most of my wishes could be carried out. But then I realized that I would have to travel, leave all my friends and family, be away from my kids, and have my baby in a different state. The reality of what a family has to go through to do what they think is best for their baby is unfathomable to anyone who has never been in this situation. I would not wish it on anyone.

Ultimately traveling to Pittsburgh is what my husband and I chose to do. I went through the labor and brought our beautiful Samuel into the world and held him in my arms. My husband and I said our goodbyes and cherished the short memories we had of him. Then we made the longest drive ever back to our family.

A mother will protect her children with all that she has – even if that means driving to another state to see that a dignified life and death was achieved. And this mother is here in the name of her three living children and her dearly missed and loved fourth to ask that you stop the ban on 20 week abortions in the State of Ohio.


Help build a pro-choice Ohio. Every day, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio fights to protect access to the full range of reproductive health care options—including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and safe & legal abortion care. We educate the public about the real threat to women’s healthcare posed by anti-choice legislation and policies. We mobilize pro-choice Ohioans to take political action to defend reproductive rights. And we are the voice for Ohio’s abortion clinics, helping them navigate the increasingly hostile climate created by extremist groups. But we need your help. As a member organization, we rely on your financial support to fund our important legislative, educational, and grassroots activities.

Contribute to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio

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