Conservatives are often lambasted for their ignorance of science and medicine, particularly when taken in combination with their desire to pass laws about these same topics. Pro-life “gynoticians” are particularly infamous for this… like Vito Barbieri, who graced his fellow Idaho state representatives with his musings about whether women could swallow a camera for remote gynecological exams.
Ohio’s anti-abortion warriors might have topped him, though, when it comes to sheer ignorance. Among a slew of abortion restrictions passed in the past few years is one that mandates that women seeking an abortion after 20 weeks must undergo a fetal viability test before having the procedure done. The problem?
The test doesn’t exist.
Then there’s the state’s confusing requirement for a fetal viability test after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Fetuses are generally not considered viable until several weeks later. But Dr. Lisa Perriera, an OB-GYN at Preterm, says there is no such test.
“The laws say that we have to do some kind of testing,” she says. “They don’t tell us what kind of tests to do, nor do those tests even really mean anything. It’s just another hoop to jump through.”
Preterm came up with its own test based on a fetus’s age and weight. But Kellie Copeland of NARAL Pro Choice Ohio says the law has prompted other clinics to simply stop doing abortions after 20 weeks.
Which, as it happens, is the goal of these abortion restrictions: an incremental move toward an absolute elimination of abortion. Even, apparently, if the means to that end are absurd.
“Our goal ultimately is to live in a society where abortion is no longer even considered,” says Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, whose offices overlook the statehouse in Columbus. He’s the key architect of a strategy even opponents call brilliant. Gonidakis calls his approach incremental and says it’s driven by concern for civil rights.
This has been the strategy of legislators in the past few years, and Ohio’s lawmakers are already resuming the iterative process with new restrictions this legislative cycle, including an out-and-out ban on abortion after 20 weeks. (Incidentally, fetuses aren’t generally viable until, at the very least, around the 24th week of pregnancy.)
It illustrates exactly what can go wrong when reality is a secondary concern to ideology among those making our laws.