Total abortion ban introduced in House, in case Roe v. Wade overturned

By: - March 4, 2020 12:30 am
A medical exam room.

A medical exam room. File photo from

A new abortion ban is being introduced in the Ohio House, this time aiming at total prohibition of abortions statewide.

Dubbed the “Human Life Protection Act” by sponsor state Rep. John Becker, the bill would take effect if the federal case that legalized abortion in the nation, Roe v. Wade, is overturned.

If and when the Supreme Court decides to return the issue of abortion back to the states, we want to be prepared for what comes next,” Becker was quoted as saying in a press release from Ohio Right to Life. The advocacy group called the bill “a priority bill” in Ohio Right to Life’s legislative agenda.

House Bill 538 would bar state funds from being disbursed for abortion-related services and make conducting an abortion a fourth-degree felony.

The only exception written in the bill is if an abortion is “necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman,” according to the bill’s language.

In that case, two physicians would need to certify in writing that the woman is in danger “based on the facts known to the physician at the time.”

The doctor would also need to perform the abortion in a “hospital or other health care facility that has appropriate neonatal services for premature infants,” the bill states, and would need to terminate the pregnancy “in the manner that provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive…”

Under the bill, another doctor is required to be in the room at the time of the abortion to “take control of, provide immediate medical care for, and take all reasonable steps necessary to preserve the life and health of the unborn child immediately upon the child’s complete expulsion or extraction from the pregnant woman.”

The bill also creates an “abortion manslaughter” charge, which would be a first-degree felony. The charge would be leveled on someone alleged to have taken the life “of a child born by attempted abortion who is alive when removed from the uterus of the pregnant woman.”

UPDATE: Lauren Blauvelt-Copelin, vice president of government affairs and public advocacy of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, said in a statement Wednesday that with the bill “anti-Abortion extremists are at it again.

“House Bill 538 is the 10th ban introduced in the last year, proving leaders in the Ohio General Assembly are only focused on eliminating legal access to abortion and neglecting everything else,” she said. Ohioans deserve better.”

The previous attempt at an abortion ban, prohibiting abortion as early as six weeks gestation, is held up in court after a U.S. District judge granted a preliminary injunction on the bill.  

The bill will now be assigned to a committee for review.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow (KY) Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.