As I consumed the daily news on a recent Thursday, I asked myself, “Where is the ‘heartbeat’ bill for Sylvia McGee?” The answer, of course, is, “Nowhere to be found.”
That’s because too many of Ohio’s fearless political leaders couldn’t care less about the 14-year-old girl who was murdered with a bullet in the back of the head near her Canton home in the early morning hours of March 30. Not only was Sylvia’s heart beating in the seconds before that deadly squeeze of a trigger, but her lungs were breathing, her brain was thinking, her eyes were seeing, her ears were hearing, her nostrils were sniffing.
The big news in most Ohio media that day was the anticipated signing of the “heartbeat” bill by Gov. Mike DeWine. It was approved by a 56-40 vote of the Ohio House and an 18-13 vote in the Ohio Senate, mostly along party lines. State Sens. Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls, and John Eklund, R-Munson, are two of just four Republican senators who opposed the bill. State Rep. Sarah LaTourette, R-Chester, toed the party line. No Democrats supported the bill.
The law is intended to protect embryos within women’s uteruses as soon as heartbeats can be detected. That generally occurs around six weeks after conception, when the embryo is about the size of a pea, according to Perinatology.com. The law allows no exceptions for rape or incest. It calls for abortion providers to be imprisoned, fined and suspended from medical practice.
Sylvia McGee’s murder was the lead story in Canton’s daily newspaper that day, but that news was little more than a blurb elsewhere. After all, deadly shootings of children are not unusual in big cities like Cleveland. But on the Wednesday before that Thursday, a 13-year-old boy pled the juvenile equivalent of not guilty to the charge of aggravated murder in Stark County Family Court.
While relatives of Sylvia McGee, undeniably a living, breathing, beating-heart human being prior to her murder, were grieving in a courtroom, abortion opponents were celebrating the “heartbeat” bill for pea-sized embryos.
Meanwhile, Ohio’s fearless political leaders are moving ahead with legislation to put more guns in more hands in more places to be more readily accessed by children to kill and maim other children.
If Ohio House Bill 174 is passed by the Republican-dominated state legislature, which appears likely, and is signed into law by Gov. DeWine, which also appears likely, conceal-carry permits will become history. Carriers of concealed weapons will require no training whatsoever. And motorists who are stopped by police no longer will be required to notify them that they have concealed weapons in their vehicles.
One common thread in these two issues is the election of Gov. DeWine last November. Former Gov. John Kasich is a certifiable opponent of abortion and proponent of gun rights, but he has a few limits. He vetoed the “heartbeat” bill, because he didn’t want to saddle taxpayers with the expense of defending an unconstitutional law in court. He also has been known to draw the line on guns, guns everywhere.
Another common thread is the refusal of most Republican politicians to bear responsibility for their actions.
They are perfectly willing to impose narrow religious beliefs on all women, in clear defiance of the First Amendment’s separation of church and state. But they take no responsibility for ensuring safe and affordable prenatal, obstetric and childbirth care; they provide minimal support for nurseries and preschools; they turn their backs on lower-income families who can’t afford comprehensive health insurance.
And when children end up with bullets in their heads, well, the fearless leaders take no responsibility for the irresponsibility that puts guns in the hands of heartless killers of all ages.