Pregnancy from rape an ‘opportunity,’ Ohio’s Jean Schmidt says

A female Republican lawmaker from Ohio has suggested that a pregnancy resulting from rape is an “opportunity” for the victim, prompting outrage from some colleagues.

State Rep. Jean Schmidt, 70, who represents Ohio’s 65th district, made the controversial remark Wednesday while being questioned by fellow legislators about House Bill 598, aka “the Human Life Protection Act,” which she sponsored.

The drastic bill would impose a nearly total ban on abortions in Ohio if the landmark Roe v. wade decision were ever overturned by the US Supreme Court —making no exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest, the Cincinnati Inquirer reported.

“It is a shame that it happens, but there’s an opportunity for that woman, no matter how young or old she is, to make a determination about what she’s going to do to help that life be a productive human being,” Schmidt said in response to a Democratic colleague’s hypothetical scenario involving a pregnant 13-year-old rape victim.

Rep. Jean Schmidt
Ohio State Rep. Jean Schmidt’s comments sparked outrage from some of her colleagues.
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Schmidt’s remarks quickly went viral, with Democrats and pro-choice advocates accusing the lawmaker of showing disregard for survivors of rape.

“We need to protect women and survivors, not rapists and pedophiles,” said state Rep. Jessica Miranda, an Ohio Democrat, who revealed that she had been sexually assaulted as a teenager.

State Democratic Rep. Casey Weinstein tweeted, “My colleague Jean Schmidt just called RAPE an ‘opportunity’ for the victim.. WE MUST STAND STRONG AGAINST THIS MADNESS.”

Meanwhile, Ohio Right to Life, the state’s oldest and largest anti-abortion group, applauded and thanked Schmidt for “leading the cause to end abortion here in the Buckeye State.”

Rep. Schmidt
Rep. Schmidt, 70, was questioned about a bill she sponsored that would impose a nearly total ban on abortions in Ohio.
Twitter/@HeartlandSignal

During Wednesday’s hearing, state Rep. Rich Brown, a Democrat, had been the one to ask Schmidt what would happen under her proposed legislation if a 13-year-old girl became pregnant after being sexually assaulted.

“This bill would require this 13-year-old to carry this felon’s fetus to term regardless of any emotional or psychological damage or trauma that may be inflicted upon this 13-year-old girl to deliver this felon’s fetus. Is that right?” I have asked.

Schmidt conceded that rape is a “difficult issue” and emotionally scars the victim for life, “just as child abuse does.”

But she argued that if a baby is conceived, it is a “human life,” and aborting the baby will not erase the mother’s emotional scars from the sexual assault.

Brown countered Schmidt’s point by suggesting that forcing a rape victim to carry an unwanted child to term would cause her further trauma.

“I think this girl has rights every bit as much as the zygote has rights under your bill,” Brown said. “This girl has rights, and I don’t think we can lose sight of the rights of the person who was raped.”

Schmidt shot back that she fundamentally disagrees with her colleague.

“That 13-year-old has rights but so does that baby inside of her,” she insisted.

After describing the hypothetical rape-induced pregnancy as “an opportunity” for the victim, Schmidt added that the mother could choose to raise the child herself, give it to a family member or put it up for adoption.

“And that child can grow up and be something magnificent: a wonderful family person, a [person who would] cure cancer, etc,” she said, adding, “Just because you have emotional scars doesn’t give you the right to take the life.”

Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the US in 1973, could by overturned by the conservative-controlled 6-3 US Supreme Court as early as this summer, when the justices hear a case about Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Overturning Roe would leave it up to the individual states to decide whether to allow access to abortions or somehow restrict them. Ohio is one of 26 states that would likely to ban or restrict abortions.

Rep. Schmidt
Rep. Schmidt’s comments were celebrated by Ohio’s oldest and largest anti-abortion group, Ohio Right to Life.
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

“We’re at a crisis point for abortion access in Ohio and across the country,” said Lauren Blauvelt-Copelin, vice president of Government Affairs and Public Advocacy at Planned Parenthood, in a previous statement.

“The majority of Ohioans believe their neighbors should be able to access abortion —Republicans in the Ohio Statehouse need to start working for us and stop working against us.”

.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.