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Planned Parenthood

Ohio Just Passed a ‘Heartbeat’ Abortion Ban

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Ohio’s Republican-led House and Senate passed legislation Tuesday night that would ban abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected― as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

The measure was attached at the last minute as an amendment to an unrelated child abuse bill. It has no exceptions for rape or incest.

If it’s passed into law, physicians could face a year in prison if they perform an abortion after a heartbeat is detected or if they fail to check for one before a procedure.

The measure is the most extreme abortion restriction in the country, effectively banning the procedure before most women even realize they’re pregnant, pro-abortion rights advocates said.

“After years of passing anti-abortion laws under the guise of protecting women’s health and safety, they lay bare their true motives: to ban abortion in the state of Ohio,” said Dawn Laguens, a spokesperson for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Ohio lawmakers have been trying to pass the “heartbeat bill” since 2011, but some activists feared that it was so extreme and unconstitutional that it could lead courts to overturn other, less stringent abortion restrictions. The Supreme Court refused to review Arkansas’ 12-week abortion ban earlier this year, which lower courts had blocked. The high court ruled in Roe v. Wade in 1973 that states are not allowed to prohibit abortions before the fetus is viable, usually around 22 to 24 weeks into the pregnancy.

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Trending: Chelsea Handler for Admitting she Had 2 Abortions in One Year at Age 16

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Chelsea Handler, today, is a childless comedian, but she could have been a mother of two if she hadn’t aborted the two babies she carried at age 16 after getting accidentally pregnant.  The brash and outspoken comedian wrote about the admission in an essay published in Playboy‘s upcoming “Freedom Issue.”

In the piece which is dedicated to discussing reproductive rights laws in the United States, she credits the US Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade which upholds a woman’s right to abortion, for helping her  rectify not one, but two “irresponsible” decisions she made as a teen.

Handler called the decisions to get the abortions within the same year as”thoughtful”.

The first pregnancy came after planned unprotected sex, after telling herself she would be able to take care of any baby that could come from it.

 “I just thought, ‘Why not?’ I can have a baby. Maybe I’ll have twins and give them rhyming names,” she detailed in the prose. “Of course, the idea that I would have a child and raise it by myself at that age, when I couldn’t even find my way home at night, was ridiculous. My parents recognized that, so they acted like parents for one of the very first times in my life and took me to Planned Parenthood.”

But then later that year, it happened again and then she said she was barely able to afford another $230 fee Planned Parenthood charges for a “safe abortion”.

“Getting unintentionally pregnant more than once is irresponsible, but it’s still necessary to make a thoughtful decision,” writes Handler, 41. “We all make mistakes all the time. I happened to f— up twice at the age of 16. I’m grateful that I came to my senses and was able to get an abortion legally without risking my health or bankrupting myself or my family.”

READ MORE in PEOPLE

New Birth Control Apps Help Women Skip Doctors; Teens Avoid Disapproving Parents

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There are 40 million cases of unintended pregnancies in the U.S. each year yet access to birth control remains a very highly controversial political topic. And now there are at least 6 ventures or private companies  (including Planned Parenthood)that have released desktop or mobile apps that enable women to get birth control without a doctor’s prescription.

The apps only require users to answer questions about their health online or by video. All of the apps  prescribe birth control pills, and some prescribe patches, rings and morning-after pills. Some ship contraceptives directly to women’s doors.

The app makers only have to follow state telemedicine laws and are not tied by federal regs and ongoing political wrangling.

Some of the apps, like web-based Nurx and mobile app Lemonaid, accept insurance, including Medicaid for women with low incomes; some charge modest fees. Some send prescriptions to local pharmacies, where women can present their insurance information when picking up the contraceptives, the New York Times reports.

The apps are said to eliminate the time and cost for some women to go to the doctors.

The apps also enable teens to get around their family doctor and having their parents find out they are having sex. No more intimidating or embarrassing trips to the clinic when your mom thinks you’re going to the movies. Whoa!

While these are great for convenience for many women, we can easily see where some parents may oppose these apps. They really do cut the parent out of the equation. Even if a mom or dad has opened up a clear path of communication, a lot of teen girls simply will not feel comfortable going to a parent for birth control.

And there is the case of a 15-year old girl whose mom did approve but was turned down when the family doctor told them “oh you don’t need to be doing that.”

There are some great anecdotal interviews with women who benefit from these apps in a NYT piece that was released today. Check it out there.