State Rep. Teresa Fedor discusses her personal experience with abortion on the House floor.
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COLUMBUS — State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo) became so angry during Wednesday’s debate on a controversial Ohio bill to ban most abortions that she revealed to her colleagues that she was once raped, became pregnant, and had an abortion.
“You don’t respect my reason, my rape, my abortion, and I guarantee you there are other women who should stand up with me and be courageous enough to speak that voice…,” she said on the House floor. “What you’re doing is so fundamentally inhuman, unconstitutional, and I’ve sat here too long.
“I dare any one of you to judge me, because there’s only one judge I’m going to face…,” she said. “I dare you to walk in my shoes. … This debate is purely political. I understand your story, but you don’t understand mine. I’m grateful for that freedom. It is a personal decision, and how dare government get into my business.”
The House on Wednesday voted 55-40 to send the bill to the Senate, which has previously blocked the measure. The House has now voted three times on the bill and passed it twice.
House Bill 69 would require a doctor to test for a fetal heartbeat. Doctors could be charged with a fifth-degree felony if they perform abortions after finding a heartbeat.
The bill would make exceptions if the mother’s life is in danger or if she is considered to be at serious risk of substantial impairment, but not for cases of rape or incest.
One Democrat joined Republicans in support.
Ten Republicans, including northwest Ohio Reps. Barbara Sears (R., Monclova Township) and Tim Brown (R., Bowling Green), voted “no.”
“I’ll tell you what we know for certain,” said Rep. Christina Hagan (R., Alliance), one of the bill’s chief sponsors.
“An unborn child has a beating heart. Should we allow that heart to be stopped? This legislation would honor life at the first detectable heartbeat by providing appropriate protection of the law to that unborn and unique individual.”
The backers of the Heartbeat Bill make no secret that they expect federal courts to strike it down as unconstitutional, giving the U.S. Supreme Court a chance to reconsider its landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision upholding abortion as a privacy right.
The high court has generally held since then that states can impose limits on abortions after a fetus is considered viable outside the womb, generally at about 24 weeks.
Ohio Right to Life does not support the Heartbeat Bill, voicing fear the Supreme Court might again uphold Roe and undermine other gains the movement has made in Ohio in recent years.
Among northwest Ohioans supporting the bill were Reps. Robert McColley (R., Napoleon), Bill Reineke (R., Tiffin), Robert Sprague (R., Findlay), Tony Burkley (R., Payne), Bob Cupp (R., Lima), and Jeffrey McClain (R., Upper Sandusky).
Joining Reps. Fedor, Sears, and Brown in the “no” column were Reps. Mike Sheehy (D., Oregon) and Michael Ashford (D., Toledo).
Ms. Fedor, 58, said after the vote that she has long struggled with the issue, but declined to go into further detail beyond saying it occurred while she was in the military.
She served in the military between 1975 and 1981, first in the U.S. Air Force and then the Ohio Air National Guard.
“It’s a personal matter, and to use this issue to sway one person’s story over another to get the wrong thing done isn’t right…,” she said.
A few minutes after the vote, Isabella Bunting, 6, played outside the chamber. Conceived via rape, the girl from Englewood, a northern suburb of Dayton, wore a shirt that declared “I (Heart) My Life.”
Her mother, Lauran, who has testified in support of the bill, had listened to Ms. Fedor’s comments on the House floor.
“It broke my heart,” she said. “The first thing I did was look at my daughter. OK, she just killed her ... When she was talking about women’s rights, my daughter’s a woman.”
Contact Jim Provance at: email@example.com or 614-221-0496.
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