A few weeks ago Ohio became the sixth state to pass a so-called “Heartbeat” Bill that prohibits abortion after a “fetal heartbeat” can be heard–around the sixth week of pregnancy when most women don’t even know yet they are pregnant.* I didn’t get much involved in the bill because I knew it would pass with flying colors, and no amount of letter writing, shouting, or immolating myself on the Statehouse steps would stop it.
Like every other state where “Heartbeat” bills have passed, implementation of Ohio’s new law is on hold. Blatantly unconstitutional (so far) all are under appeal or will be at enormous taxpayer expense in each enacted state. The laws are all part of the “pro-life” game of throwing shit on the wall to see what sticks. Called trigger laws, they would not go into effect until and unless courts rule the laws are constitutional or Roe is overturned and abortion rights are tossed back to the states. With Trump, and his even more troglodyte successor(s), Roe may not prevail.
The 2019 “Heartbeat “bill, (SB23), is not the first attempt to ban abortion in Ohio. An even more draconian bill came in 2006 with the introduction the HB228 that would have outlawed abortion totally and criminalized anyone who performs abortions, and individuals (including husbands, parents and, in theory, even bus and cab drivers) who transport Ohio women to other states to procure abortions.
This bill was the brainchild of Dr. John Willke co-founder and former president of the National Right to Life Committee and founder of Life Issues Institute in Cincinnati, and his protegé, Cleveland native, Janet Folger Porter (then, just Folger) former Ohio Right to Life Legislative Director and later president of D James Kennedy’s now-defunct Center for Reclaiming America for Christ in Fort Lauderdale. D James Kennedy Ministries is listed as a Hate Group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Her current project Faith2Action, (F2A) located in North Royalton, Ohio is currently on the list. Folger Porter’s “Heartbeat” legislation is the model for all state efforts
Not coincidently, Willke, who died in 2009 and Folger Porter were strong opponents of adoptee rights. They claimed Original Birth Certificate access would cause women to run off to their local “abortorium” rather than live a lifetime in fear of being de-secreted by bastards on the doorstep. Wilke went so far as to claim that many birthmothers were prostitutes and that the only reason a birthparent would want reunion was so somebody would bring them cookies in jail!. In Fall 1996 Folger Porter, using threats of ORTL election de-endorsement (reportedly without ORTL board knowledge ), killed a section of the Omnibus Adoption and Foster Care bill that would have granted full OBC access for all post-1963 adoptees. In response, a compromise was made that (1) kept post-1963-adoptees in a no-OBC access black hole and (2) created the 1996 opt-in Disclosure Veto option for birthparents who did not want to be identified for those adopted after September 17, 1996. In turn, this cave-in had negative OBC release consequences for 1964-1997 adoptees years later, when a separate sunsetted identity redaction was passed that blocked the eligibility of 259 Ohio adoptees to receive a full genuine OBC. Moreover, a reported handful of post-9/17/96 OBCs are sealed due to Folger Porter.
The Columbus Free Press .published my account of the Willke-Folger HB 228 wet dream, which ejaculated with a whimper a few days after the first hearing. A slightly different version (with pictures) was published in my Theoconia blog
“Heartbeat” bill antecedents have flopped through the Statehouse since then. Except for 2016 and 2018 versions which Gov John Kasich vetoed, over their constitutionally, they never made it out the door mainly because Ohio Right to Life (sans Folger Porter) and important Republican politicians, saw them as eminently overturnable, and refused to support them. Only with Trump ascendancy has the state GOP and ORTL flipped.
Moreover, “Heartbeat” diva Folger Porter’s ham-handed and embarrassing attempts to bulldoze a 2011 “Heartbill” bill through the legislature, did little to endear her to long-time friends and fellow travelers who usually jumped at her slightest handclap. Folger Porter, known for throwing PR stunts back in her ORTL days, attempted to “bribe” Senators with 20,000 heart-shaped balloons and beating-heart teddy bears. The stunt backfired. So did her weird “in the womb hearing” where two fetuses “testified” against abortion via ultrasound projection. So did her press conference cum performance piece staged at the Statehouse where toddlers and olders begged politicians “Don’t kill the babies.”
As payback, Porter (eschewing Folger when she acquired a husband) ran for Ohio Senate District 22 (Medina) in the 2016 Republican primary against her old friend incumbent Larry Obhof who had shut her down in 2012. She lost by a landslide, getting only 34.90% of the vote. Since then Folger Porter has devoted her time to her anti-abortion/queer/ObamaCare/Islam Faith2Action ministry and beating up on ORTL and its director Mike Gonidakis, She has gone particularly bonkers over transwomen and same-sex bathrooms. Recently Folger Porter acted as “volunteer spokeswoman” for accused teen molester Judge Roy Moore. We no doubt will see more of her since Moore has announced his intention to run for the Alabama US Senate seat.
“Heartbeat” = Funded Adoption Initiatives
Ohio’s “Heartbeat” bill has been covered extensively, and I don’t intend to reinvent that wheel. I do, however, want to discuss a little section tucked away in the bill that authorizes fines derived from violations of the law to fund adoption and foster care services. I was not aware of this until I read an April 11, 2019 article by Jim Provance in the Toledo Blade:
The bill would make it a fifth-degree felony, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine, for a doctor who fails to test for a fetal heartbeat or proceeds with an abortion after detecting one. In addition to the State Medical Board potentially taking action against the doctor’s license, the board could levy an additional fine of $20,000 to fuel a fund supporting foster-care and adoption services [and initiatives.]
Adoption services and initiatives? What kind?.
According to the bill, the committee will exist:
Sec. 2919.1910. (A) To ensure that citizens are informed of available options in this state,there is hereby created the joint legislative committee on adoption promotion and support. The committee may review or study any matter that it considers relevant to the adoption process in this state, with priority given to the study or review of mechanisms intended to increase awareness of the process, increase its effectiveness, or both
Translation: the committee will partner with politicians, adoption industrialists, evangelical and Catholic Bible thumpers, and fake clinics to create more adoption product and havoc.
Since the state’s childless and desperate hardly need to be made aware of “adoption options,” awareness will focus on convincing the expected crop of forcibly-pregnant “Heartbeat” victims into the adoption spammer. Or is that strong arm? Whatever. What we do know is that the committee won’t do anything to actually abolish the state’s 3-tired OBC access system (which deformers claim no longer exists) by erasing the 1964-1997 redaction black boxes under the 2014 law and the DVs filed under the 1996 law.
BTW, all members of the committee will be members of the House and Senate, of course. No real-life person with personal adoption experience. No need for negativity. No bastards need apply.
I emailed “Heartbeat” bill sponsor Sen Kristina Roegner for clarification and details, but have not received a response.
Heartbeat Bill = Adoption Business as usual
The “Heartbeat” Bill plays right into the misogynist “caveman” agenda at the Statehouse. A few years ago, the self-described “cavemen” claimed that any legislation regarding women (even a state-funded women’s smoking cessation program) was a covert attempt at abortion rights. Women need to remember they are baby-making machines
The “Heartbeat bill”is the cavemen’s dream bill–abrogating women’s autonomy, making the female body the property of the State of Ohio. It promotes the false paradigm that the only reactions to unwanted/unplanned pregnancy are abortion (bad) or adoption (good). It does nothing to address poverty and income disparity, racism, physical abuse, substance abuse, health, and psychological problems, rape, incest, lack of personal support, and other reasons women may seek abortions.
On the one hand, “Heartbeat”pimps the male supremacist theology that all women want (and need) to be mothers (unless they are unmarried or otherwise “unworthy”) but on the other hand, pimps adoption for the inevitably white and middle-class cis Christian, and usually married “worthy.” It rejects with outright horror the idea that women who seek abortions just don’t want to be pregnant–for any number of reasons including none-of-your-business. No surprise there. During a 2012 “Heatbeat” attempt, cosponsor Rep, Jim Buchy, generally considered the dumbest doorknob ever elected to the Ohio House, was asked by al Jazeera why he thought a woman would want an abortion. He said he didn’t know, He’d never thought about it.
It is noteworthy that proponents so concerned with “saving babies” and the “sanctity” of life and the family didn’t bother to include language in the bill to support family preservation, pre- and post-natal care, financial aid for pregnant women and new mothers to help them maintain their pregnancies and families, kinship placement, temporary foster care, or any related public or private assistance. The bill is silent on ethical and transparent adoption procedures (antithetical to “Heartbeat” forced pregnancy and birth mandates) that protect birthparents, children and potential adoptive parents. Nor does it mention cleaning up CPS abuse or.the state’s deplorable foster care system. Incidentally, bill proponents rejected an amendment to the bill that would have criminalized certain forms of spousal rape.No doubt some initiative will support adoption pipeline “crisis pregnancy centers,” AKA compulsory pregnancy camps. Columbus is the international headquarters for Heartbeat International, the largest CPC franchise in the world with 2,500 affiliates. Surely, it will line up at the trough.
Adoptees as Legislative Subjects of Fantasy, Desire, and Salvation
Adoption is the through-line in any forced-birth/ “Heartbeat” Bill discussion, on the legislative floor or online where verbal brawls between anti-aborts and adopted people are common with anti-aborts telling adoptees to STFU if they support abortion rights and reproductive justice. (Twenty years ago Pat Robertson told his 700 Club audience that the adoptee rights movement was a shill for abortion rights.) And woe to the adoptee who declares she’d prefer to have been aborted. Adoptees are God’s gifts until we aren’t. (See @@LilaGraceRose on Twitter if you can stomach it.)
ORTL’s Mike Gonidakis (incidentally while not a doctor is also president of the Ohio Medical Board, a clear conflict of interest) likes to talk about the tragedy of infant adoptee scarcity. In 2014, testifying in support of Sub SB250, ORTL’s first foray into creating adoption legislation, that “encouraged adoption” through
gutting streamlining Ohio adoption law, he whinged about the difficulty he and his wife experienced acquiring their own adoptees.
For too long, the choice to give new life and a new home to a child in Ohio has been slow and expensive, fraught with both red tape and fraud. In truth, adopting my son in Cleveland was much more difficult than adopting my daughter in Guatemala.
Whaaa???? Guatemala–where children were kidnapped off the street to fulfill El Norte adoption orders? Of course, it was more difficult.! I used to hang out in Collinwood, and Clevelanders generally object to random child grabbing.
The bill that Gonidakis pushed so tearfully passed into law on the assumption that it would curb abortion and make adoption of newborns quicker and easier–and I kid you not–to keep them out of foster care! Foster, care, as usual., was otherwise ignored or at best called “another issue.” Apparently, older living children don’t deserve the same protection and speculative forever homes as zygotes and embryos. Outlandishly, Gonidakis and proponents fantasized that increasing tax credits for adopters would encourage pregnant women to turn in their babies. Go here for my account of the
clown show hearing I attended and the sheer density of proponent thought.
I don’t have access to copies of “Heartbeat” bill testimony, but I would not be surprised if Gonidakis re-hashed his performance for HB23.
He did, however, Tweet while the “Heartbeat” bill was in process:
Last post from me to you….. there is no such thing as an unwanted child. The line is long of Ohio families waiting to adopt (just like my wife and I who adopted both of our children). Children are priceless and all are wanted.
I checked the “Heartbill” bills that have passed in other states and there is no adoption language written into any of them, though obviously adoption played large in the minds of promoters and in debates.
Despite current lack of legislative language, forced birthers have made it clear, however, that adoptees and future adoptees they hope to harvest with these bills are cannon fodder for their stop-abortion agenda.
On April 30 the Alabama House passed its own version of the “Heartbeat” bill, and Senate approval is expected shortly. The bill makes commission of an abortion in the state a Class A Felony with a sentence between 10 and 99 years in prison. Adoption language is not written into the bill, but it is clear that increasing the adoptee population and agency coffers are two of the legislative goals. A representative of the Birmingham adoption agency, Lifeline Children’s Services, testified in support of the bill when it was heard before the House Health Committee. He agreed that abortion should be criminalized and assured the committee that his agency, would take the resulting babies. He forgot to mention at $25,000-$60,000 a crack.
Lifeline was founded in 1980 by Wales Goebel, a land developer and former US Marshall, a year after he and his wife founded their baby harvesting “crisis pregnancy ministry,” Sav-a-Life. According to the Goebel Ministry webpage over 500,000 young women have “received assistance” since then. Over 123,000 professions of faith have been recorded and 51,000 babies have been “saved.” Today there are 67 Sav-A-Life affiliates in six states ministering to over 20,000 girls each year. The agency sees adoption as a Biblical mandate that will create Gospel-centered families, which apparently single-parents would or could not furnish. “God gives families to vulnerable children who need to know the love of a family and the love of Christ….we want them to know the truth of the Gospel.” Lifeline says it has moved 1000 babies into “Christian homes.” According to it’s 2017 IRS 990 published in Guidestar,(free account required), Lifeline generated a revenue of over $7 million.
Saving adoption from the adopted
At the moment “Heartbeat” bills are held in abeyance as they wend their way through the courts. As adoptee rights activists, though, we cannot ignore them as we are dragged into the fray and our rights battered for some kind of “greater good,” where we are expected to set aside our rights for the putative rights of the unborn and unformed. It is easy to see where “Heartbeat” is going.
In the current political climate, adoptee rights and adoption reform are tightly tied to abortion–even though IRL adoption and abortion have little relationship. Abortion is a decision to not be pregnant; adoption is a decision to not parent. Neither decisions are the state’s business. Abortion and adoption rates, in fact, have remained steady for decades, Nationwide, the number of abortions is actually decreasing. About half of adoptions in the US are a stepparent
Genuine adoptee rights and adoption reform advocates define adoption reform differently from the forced-birther crowd.
Genuine adoptee rights advocates and reformers de-commodify. They advocate for the restoration of OBC and identity rights for adoptees, accountability and transparency in the domestic and international adoption process, education about the lifelong effects of adoption on all involved, the de-stigmatization of adoptees, first parents and adoptive parents. They support family preservation and an overhaul of the foster care system. Adoption for them is too easy.
Forced birthers commodify. They appropriate “adoption reform” then redefine it as the creation of more product for the market through measures such as outlawing abortion and “streamlining” newborn adoption to make it quicker, easier, and cheaper. Foster care is rarely mentioned. While they throw around coded terms like “family values” and “natural family” (by which they mean married straight parents) they have little respect for the value of unmarried families and promote natural family separation via adoption. They celebrate each adoption as a win-win-win situation ignoring that most adoptions are about loss. Adoption, for them, is too difficult.
Most adoptions today are identified and/or open, yet anti-aborts prefer to keep the tradition of the sealed and secret adoption system in place even when cheap DNA testing, search angels, and the Internet, in general, nullify adoption secrecy. They base their opposition to adoptee rights on alleged promises of parental “anonymity” which never happened and the speculative “if it saves just one,” based on absolutely nothing. .If a 57-year-old woman receives her OBC today, someone somewhere will abort five years from now. rather than have a dirty little secret “you” hovering in the future
But, in reality, it is a mixture of the political and the personal. While adoptees are bragged on as the pristine product of the anti-abortion movement, “saved” adoptees are also personal whether forced birthers are the actual adopters or not. Adoptees represent a golden age–a family nostalgia– that never. existed outside of movies and Sunday School. Adoptees who demand documents and identity rights don’t. We are regarded by forced-birthers as moral transgressors and subverters of that adoptive family ideal; myth breakers; breakers of the family seal. Somebody or everybody is a moral failure. Some have publically called us out as “baby killers”–even adoptees who oppose abortion rights.
I am comfortable believing, that in Ohio the Adoption Committee and its funding is straight Gonidakis, but it would make sense for other “Heartbeat” states to legislate similar or even more far-reaching “adoption initiatives” to pass their bills, since adoption is a bleeding-heart winner.
Currently, the ORTL Legislative Action Page doesn’t; feature any obvious baby napping initiatives, but its history indicates there may be some in the future, such as narrowing the few rights fathers still enjoy and shorter timeframes for adoption finalization.
ORTL, though, is far from the most radical group talking to lawmakers. Even ORTL affiliates have been known to jump the rails. I’d not be surprised to see in a few months, attempts to add amendments to the “Heartbeat” bill taken from Folger Porter’s 2006 original bill. The only upside to this in Ohio right now is that Folger Porter has become so unpopular at the Statehouse recently that she was, “disinvited” from the “Hearbeat” bill signing. Always the credit whore, she told Statehouse reporter Jo Ingles that ORTL’s late entry into the campaign was “insignificant”. Then she referred to a flyer she distributed earlier in the session, that explains a teensy bit more why she’s been kicked out. The flyer won’t download properly, but you can see it here. Yeah, i;s easy to see why Janet is persona non grata..
As for the Ohio “Heartbeat” bill itself, and others passed or in the works in other states, be on special lookout for amendments and provisions that would prosecute medical providers who perform abortions as well as women who self-manage their abortions. The just-passed Georgia law. HB 184, appears to have lifted parts of the Wilke-Folger 2006 bill. Legal scholars believe the law could cause miscarriages to be investigated by police and send Georgia medical providers and women who have abortions to prison..
As this is going to press I learned that the usual suspects in the Ohio legislature have sunk bonkerism to a new low threshold. HB182, introduced last month, by Rep.John Becker (R-Union Township, Clermont County) would prohibit private insurance from paying for any abortion that slips through the cracks and outlaw all contraception methods that include “drugs or devices used to prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum,” mainly birth control pills and IUDs. But it gets crazier. Becker’s bill requires that women in life-endangering pregnancies be forced to undergo legislature-mandated creepy medical experiments and procedures. In order to treat an ectopic pregnancy, that threatens a woman’s life, the bill authorizes the removal of the embryo from the fallopian tube and inserting it into the uterus, so that procedure would not be considered an abortion. That wackadoodle medical procedure doesn’t exist. Rep. Becker needs to have a little talk with Mrs. Becker.
No matter what happens in Ohio and other states, adoptees will continue to be weaponized and fetishized by the people who find us otherwise too dangerous to own our own birth records and personal information. Conversely, we are eternal helpless infants in need of constant saving and Godly guidance. However they look at us, we are propaganda with no agency but theirs, no definition but theirs. and no humanity but what they want to bestow on us. Without the adoptive body for them to sell , abortion will continue.
*I have put “Heartbeat” in quotes because the term is wrong, and used solely for propaganda purposes There is no heartbeat at 6 weeks, only fetal pole cardiac activity. See Dr Jen Gunter Dear Press.stop calling them “heartbeat “bills and call them fetal pole cardiac activity bills
Thanks to Elizabeth Porter Graham. JD for Alabama information.