By Ken Burchett, associate editor, and Alyssa Cocchiola, editor-in-chief

AUGUST 2022 — Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that considered abortion a right to privacy by the 14th Amendment, was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court by a 6-3 vote June 24. Following the decision, protests were held, legislation was enacted, and the legality of abortion was left in the hands of the individual U.S. states.

The Ohio Heartbeat Bill

Shortly after Roe’s overturn, Ohio SB 23, otherwise known as the heartbeat bill, was enacted. The bill declares that all abortion becomes illegal once a fetal heartbeat could be detected, which is usually around six weeks.

Pictured above is a map outlining the legality of abortion in the U.S. post-Roe. Image obtained from

Elizabeth Whitmarsh, the director of communications at Ohio Right to Life, a pro-life organization, explained how the heartbeat bill came into effect.

“So the heartbeat bill, it was passed in 2019. As soon as Governor Mike DeWine came into office, that was his campaign promise: he would sign the heartbeat bill as soon as it’s on his desk,” explained Whitmarsh. “That was one of the first things that he did as governor, and immediately, as soon as it got signed, a federal judge in Cincinnati…put an injunction on it, so it wasn’t able to go into effect.”

The injunction was enacted by Judge Michael Barrett by request of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

The Ohio law does not allow exceptions for rape or incest, only in cases of medical emergency.

Medical emergency is defined as “serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman,” according to Ohio Revised Code 2919.16(F) & (K).

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the WilmerHale law firm, submitted a motion for an emergency stay of the ban, though the Ohio Supreme Court denied it. Denial of emergency stay means that abortion clinics cannot conduct abortions past six weeks while the case is ongoing.

“With the six-week ban in effect, most Ohioans are now unable to access abortion unless they can afford to travel hundreds of miles out of state, take time off work and arrange child care and transportation. At Planned Parenthood, we have the resources to support patients in getting the care they need and deserve, yet it comes at a cost,” CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio Iris Harvey said in a statement following the overturning of Roe.

On the Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio website, the group’s stance on the overturning was outlined.

“We will do everything in our power to ensure every person’s right to bodily autonomy is upheld. Our health centers have and will remain trusted health care partners for patients across Ohio. Planned Parenthood stands for care — without exception or condition,” it read.

Other organizations, like Ohio Right to Life, looked at the heartbeat bill in a positive light. The organization’s mission is to end all abortion in the state of Ohio. This mission sparks from the belief that a human life starts at conception and should be protected in the womb under any circumstances.  

“It is a huge sign of progress in the state of Ohio, because with the heartbeat, a heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks, which is a really short window of time for abortionists to perform an abortion. Most women find out they are pregnant anywhere between…three weeks or all the way up to six to seven week. It can be a bit later if you’re not paying attention to your cycle,” Whitmarsh explained.

Due to the shortened window that women are able to get an abortion, Whitmarsh noted that the bill would “move Ohio in the right direction.”

She continued, “When Roe got passed, the approval of abortion significantly went up. Laws do have an effect on our society. They do have an effect on our culture as a whole, so we’re hoping that with this, it’ll help to change the society so that we embrace more of a culture of life — so that we come together. It will also help us as a community to think twice when we see women in need.”

Ginger Bakos, former co-chair of Northeast Ohio Women’s March and mother of Bio-Med Science Academy Senior Emmett Bakos, voiced her opinion of the bill.

“What they have essentially done is outlawed abortion without saying that. Because most people don’t even know they’re pregnant at six weeks,” she said. “The idea that you can just shove all these babies into the foster care system is so infuriating. There aren’t enough families to adopt all the babies and kids we have now. The way that foster kids are treated, and shuffled from place to place. It’s already a system that’s busting at the seams. The idea that this is a good idea is so offensive. The idea that in the middle of an infant formula shortage, that we’re going to force people to have babies, is just so offensive.”

Activism From Bio-Med Science Academy Parents and Students

A local protest was organized by Bakos and Kenyona “Sunny” Mathews, the other former co-chair of Northeast Ohio Women’s March, June 28.

Bakos emphasized the importance of hiring peace marshals at the protest. “That’s a key piece of organizing, because the peace marshals work for the event, not the city or police, so they keep the people happy.” Photo provided by Jenna Bates.

“We had some folks who held political office, people from their offices, and we had people there just to tell their stories. I think there is, particularly from the pro-life side, a lot of villainizing abortion, and what it’s for, and how people ‘use abortion.’ Everybody who spoke had a story,” Bakos said. “So often, abortion and abortion-care in this country is to save lives, and we just forget that.”

The protest was held in Downtown Cuyahoga Falls and hosted a variety of speakers.

Bakos cited her own experience with abortion, stating, “When [my son], Tristan, was three years old, I started having a miscarriage in the middle of his birthday party. If I had not had abortion services, I would have died. At this point, [pro-lifers] would’ve tried to justify that.”

Bakos was not the only person to protest as a result of Roe’s overturning. Bio-Med Senior Hailey Mills was on vacation when she learned about the overturn.

Bio-Med Senior Hailey Mills stands outside of the Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. June 24, the day that Roe v. Wade was overturned. There, she holds a sign with a link to Photo provided by Hailey Mills.

“I was in Washington D.C. at the spy museum, and I was looking at stuff. My dad sends me a text and says, ‘Just opened the news app and saw this.’ It was a screenshot of Roe v. Wade getting overturned. At first, I thought he was just reading fake news… so I looked online, and I saw that it was real, and tears started forming in my eyes. I don’t even know how to explain it, but I was so upset and distraught about what was going on,” she said.

Shortly after learning about the overturn of Roe, Mills and her mother attended a protest in front of the Supreme Court building.

“[We] protested for about 30-ish minutes, because we had reservations to do other things,” Mills recalled. “It was just nice to be there at the Supreme Court. Even though they probably weren’t there,… it just still felt important, because they would obviously be watching and seeing how many people were actually there, outside of the place they work.”

That day, Mills later posted an image of her protesting on Instagram, with a caption that read, “I am in disappointment, finding out I won’t have a choice for my body. We are going backwards in history. If given the choice, I would rather not had protests…but because a terrible choice made by congress, I am as happy as I can be to be able to speak up in front of the Supreme Court. I am furious and in dismay of what this country is leading to.”

“One of the biggest things that came about from [the] Women’s March was when you organize, you have to have a purpose. You have to be doing something, there has to be a call to action,” Bakos said. “We organized voter registration, and then we took donations for Planned Parenthood and [the Escort Service Program].” Photo provided by Ginger Bakos.

Offering More Support for Pregnant People

Mills, Bakos, and thousands of Americans attended and/or organized protests following the overturn of Roe, citing a pro-choice stance.

Whitmarsh, on the other hand, disagreed with the protests’ message. She believed that instead of legalizing abortion, offering more support for pregnant people will eliminate the “need” for one.

“We know that ending the horror of abortion, while I do believe that it is terribile and needs to be ended, that doesn’t take away the fact that there’s women and children that are in need, and they need our help and that they find themselves in these situations where they consider abortion, because they feel as though they have no other option. The other half of our mission is to really care for those women, to show them that there is support, and to create a culture and a community where they feel supported or they feel like they don’t have to run to get an abortion. They can choose life, and they can continue on to have a future.”

She also noted that more expectations should not only be placed on women to keep the child, but on men as well.

“A huge reason why so many women are feeling like they have to get an abortion is because a man is not involved. That’s scary, as young women, that’s really scary if I was pregnant and found out that I was going to be a single mother,” Whitmarsh said. “We as a culture and a society, we need to demand that. We need to demand that men can no longer feel like they can just walk away. That’s not okay. I think that really having a holistic conversation about the entire issue and what got us there.”

Pictured above is the Ohio Right to Life booth at the Portage County Randolph Fair. Photo by Alyssa Cocchiola, editor-in-chief.

Part of the “holistic conversation” Whitmarsh mentioned is to address the risks of pregnancy more seriously and offer a different approach to sex education.

“I think that we have, as a society, bought into the idea that you can divorce sex from having children, and while it’s very true that there are methods that you can put in place to prevent pregnancy from happening, there’s always a chance that it will happen. You can never completely separate sex and baby making. You just scientifically can’t,” Whitmarsh explained.

She continued, “As a society and culture, we need to come back to that and realize that while yes, there’s amazing modern and scientific inventions like birth control, like condoms or just tracking your cycle as women. Talking about sex education, most women don’t even know how to track their cycle. Most women don’t even know when they ovulate or how they can actually family plan. Those things are so important to teach to young women, and it puts so much more control over our own bodies back into our hands, so just giving real tools to women and men, I think that that will be huge.”

Bakos responded to this, saying, “That’s a big part of the pro-choice movement, that you need to have all of those things, but the irony is that many Right-to-Lifers are against all of those things. They say they want sex ed, but they want abstinence-only sex ed, which is nonsense. Anyone who’s ever been a teenager knows that that’s nonsense.”

She recalled her own pregnancy experience, and the difficulty she faced regarding insurance and how expensive prenatal care was. She also noted that low-income households struggle to afford prenatal healthcare, disproportionately affecting minorities such as people of color.

Due to the cost of prenatal care, Ohio has proposed Senate Bill 262, which would allow people to sue their impregnator if the pregnancy was unintentional. This bill is still in the early stages, and has not had a formal hearing.

U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer and Representative Mike Johnson also introduced the Unborn Child Support Act, which allows child support payments to be claimed on unborn children.

Even with the implementation of these policies, Bakos still believes abortion should remain legal.

“A woman has to have a right to choose, period. There is no [legislation] that anyone can name where we restrict men,” she said.

She compared this to organ donation, describing how organs cannot be taken from anyone, including corpses, without their consent.

New Exceptions for Medical Emergency

Though abortion is still regulated in many U.S. states, President Biden signed an executive order July 8 that mandated abortion be legal in cases of medical emergencies, as it would be in violation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act.

Though it does not impact Ohio’s heartbeat bill, which already had exceptions for medical emergencies, the order will change the legality of abortion in states where it is completely banned. For example, Missouri’s House Bill 2810 still charges a class A felony if the “abortion was performed or induced or was attempted to be performed or induced on a woman who has an ectopic pregnancy.”

President Biden Tweeted the following image July 23 with a caption that read, “Under no circumstances should a woman be denied emergency medical care because she’s pregnant. I’ve taken action to ensure this is never the case in the United States.” Photo obtained from Twitter @POTUS.

Ectopic pregnancies are when an egg implants outside the uterus; these cases are never viable, and almost always put the pregnant person’s life at risk.

Prior to Biden’s executive order, one of Mills’ main concerns was people being denied abortions in cases of medical emergencies.

“I think that it’s already starting to impact [people] even though it just happened…. It’s been less than a week and people have already been affected by it,” Mills stated. “I read somewhere how there was an iffy situation going on at a hospital where it was either the mom’s life or a fetus not ready to be born outside of the womb, and it came down to that situation, and the doctor had to call lawyers to see what he could do so he wouldn’t lose his license of being a doctor.”

She continued, “I couldn’t even imagine laying there thinking, ‘I’m going to die today,’ and the doctors can’t even do anything to help me. Stuff like that — people could be going to jail for having an abortion and it’s just crazy. It’s so crazy. I don’t even know what to say.”

Under Ohio’s heartbeat bill, controversy has sparked over a recent story of a 10-year-old who became pregnant after being raped by a 27-year-old man. After the heartbeat bill was passed, she traveled to Indiana, where Dr. Caitlin Bernard administered the treatment.

Mills commented, “I saw a Tik Tok that was like, ‘not old enough to give consent, but old enough to have a baby,’ and that was so heartbreaking to think of all the little girls that are not even in middle school about to have children because — a child is going to have a child — because of this [decision]. It’s just heartbreaking.”

Bakos agreed, saying, “A 10-year-old, under any circumstance, should not be forced to have a child. If you wouldn’t let a 10-year-old adopt a child, why would you force them to birth a child?”

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita claimed that Bernard has previously failed to follow state reporting requirements surrounding abortion procedures. Indiana health officials released documentation indicating this to be false, and Bernard has threatened to sue Rokita for defamation. She has yet to decide if she will proceed with the lawsuit.

Other measures have been taken to ensure access to abortion. The House of Representatives passed a bill that would protect the right to travel between states for abortion care. Dubbed the “Ensuring Women’s Right to Reproductive Freedom Act,” it also ensures that states cannot restrict or punish those who “assist another person traveling across a State line for the purpose of obtaining an abortion service that is lawful in the State in which the service is to be provided.”

It also protects the movement of “interstate commerce… of any drug approved or licensed by the Food and Drug Administration for the termination of a pregnancy.”

Oklahoma Senator James Lankford claimed this was unnecessary, stating, “No state has banned interstate travel for adult women seeking to obtain an abortion.”

Despite this, Yvette Ostolazaa, a Dallas-based corporate litigator and the head of the Sidley Austin LLP, received a letter from Texas elected officials, threatening the office for assisting employees with abortion-related travel costs. The letter also included plans to introduce legislation that will “impose additional civil and criminal sanctions on law firms that pay for abortions or abortion travel.”

Future Legislation and Supreme Court Cases

Many wonder if this decision will affect in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Attorney Eric Johnston, the author of Alabama’s 2019 Human Life Protection Act, stated that abortion would only be prohibited when a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall, despite other legislation indicating that life begins at conception.

“In vitro fertilization would not be affected by this law as there are no intentional attempts to remove a fertilized egg from the uterine wall with in vitro fertilization,” Johnston said in an interview with Alabama policy institute.

Many also wonder if this would lead to restrictions on forms of contraception that could work after conception, such as intrauterine devices (IUD), and the morning-after pill.

Copper IUDs work by releasing copper ions to create an inhospitable environment for sperm. Hormonal IUDs work by using hormones to thicken cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. Both IUDs and Plan B pills thin the uterine lining to prevent the egg from implanting, should fertilization occur. Photo, “Mirena IUD,” by Sarah Mirk is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

In Ohio, since the abortion ban does not take effect until six weeks of pregnancy, these options remain available. Should Ohio issue a total abortion ban, these methods may become illegal.

In the future, SCOTUS may review other cases with rulings with similar precedent. Shortly after the initial overturning of Roe, Justice Clarence Thomas stated in a concurring opinion that the court “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.”

These cases ruled for the right for married couples to buy and use contraceptives without government restriction, that sanctions of criminal punishment for those who commit sodomy are unconstitutional, and the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause.

Many individuals have expressed concern that, like Roe, court cases like Griswold may be overruled.  

Whitmarch concluded, “Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, it never was settled. There was always a huge pro-life movement that fought against it, whereas, if you compare that to, I believe it’s Griswold that was the decision for birth control, there was never a continued fight after that….I don’t think that the pro-life movement is going to go anywhere near the fight against birth control. I don’t think that’s our goal, and that is our focus,”

She continued, “I think that the focus is ending abortion and building a culture of life. I don’t think that it’s going to be the next step. I think there might be some churches or outliers who feel strongly about it that might fight against [contraceptives] from a cultural perspective, but from a legal perspective, I think that it’s pretty settled, and I don’t think that anybody is going to be trying to overturn Griswold by any means.”

Associate Justice Samuel Alito assured that this logic would not extend to these cases, writing, “Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.”

However, SCOTUS’s liberal justices, Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, are not convinced, saying the decision on Roe leaves other decades-old precedents vulnerable.

Bakos responded to Thomas’s opinion.

“The irony is that you don’t get to choose. If Clarence Thomas wants to go after these other decisions, then he’s also going to be going after Loving v. Virginia, which gives him a right to be married to his wife. He doesn’t get to choose,” she said. “That’s the problem with precedent, you don’t get to choose how it gets applied. What will happen now, is it will come to cases being brought up to SCOTUS. What we’re seeing right now, in our government, is everything is being run through the courts. Our legislative system is pretty crippled.”

Bakos advised citizens to contact their local legislators, pushing them to codify Roe v. Wade into law and end the filibuster, and to donate to organizations that assist women in finding abortion care.

She concluded, “I think the idea that anyone who isn’t of voting age doesn’t have power is false. There has been a massive shift in power and structure in this country, and there are a lot of people who are saying, ‘We’re just not gonna take it anymore.’ [Gen Z] has the power to push back. Politicians are public servants. They work for their constituents, and anyone who doesn’t isn’t doing their job.”

The Hive reached out to the Supreme Court Public Information Office, several representatives from Planned Parenthood via email, phone, and in-person requests, and Bio-Med Students and parents whose opinions varied on the subject. The Hive’s queries were not answered by these parties.

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