John Kasich pulled a bait-and-switch with a major abortion bill in Ohio.

In a surprising move, Ohio Gov. John Kasich has vetoed the controversial "heartbeat bill" that recently passed the state's House and Senate.

The bill, which would've been one of the nation's strictest abortion laws if it passed, banned abortion as soon as a physician could detect a heartbeat — as soon as six weeks.

John Kasich during his 2016 presidential campaign. Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images.


The measure was expected to pass. It was tacked onto a noncontroversial child abuse law supported by both Democrats and Republicans. But after several emotional testimonies in the state House, as well as the outspoken efforts of activists and physicians, the bill was stopped.

That's the good news.

But Kasich's veto of the "hearbeat bill" is still not a victory for the pro-choice movement. Far from it.

Kasich signed into law a second bill banning abortions after 20 weeks. Remarkably, it's his 18th restriction on abortion rights as governor.

The 20-week ban also contains no exceptions for rape or incest cases, and according to the Columbus Dispatch, the law "will make it a fourth-degree felony for a physician to perform an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy except to save a mother's life. The felony is punishable by up to 18 months in prison. A conviction also would result in the loss of a physician's medical license."

Needless to say, the vetoing of one extreme bill and passing of another has not escaped the attention of abortion rights activists:‌‌‌‌‌

"The 20-week abortion ban callously disregards the unique circumstances that surround a woman’s pregnancy," NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said in a statement. "Once a woman has made the decision to end a pregnancy, she needs access to safe and legal abortion care in her community. Kasich’s actions today will fall hardest on low-income women, women of color, and young women."

Make no mistake: A 20-week abortion ban is still a ban — and an attack on women's rights.

Demonstrators commemorate the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

According to Planned Parenthood, 99% of abortions occur before 21 weeks, but those that occur after are sometimes because of life-threatening anomalies that can only be detected later in pregnancy. They're wanted pregnancies that are simply dangerous to the mother or child.

Take April Salazar's story, for example. At 21 weeks, Salazar found out that her unborn son had lethal skeletal dysplasia and would die minutes after being born. Laws like the one passed in Ohio would force Salazar to carry that fetus to term, only to watch it suffer and die. There are numerous stories like hers — almost too many to count — but the key point is that every woman should have safe access to abortion regardless of an arbitrary time limit.

So far, 17 states have passed similar 20-week abortion bans.

If you support a woman's right to choose, it's more important than ever to pay attention and not let laws like this pass.

20-week bans — or any limitations on abortion — are a direct threat to the constitutional right recognized by Roe v. Wade more than 40 years ago. The people behind them are pretty up-front about that: "The 20-week ban was nationally designed to be the vehicle to end abortion in America," Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said in a statement.

Odds are we'll be seeing more laws like this in the coming years. If you're against them, you need to make your voice heard.  

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Culture

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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