2021 filled with new abortion restrictions in Ohio

Gov. Mike DeWine currently considering signing latest

By: - December 22, 2021 1:00 am

Abortion and pro-choice advocates walk into the rotunda of the Ohio Statehouse, on their way to demonstrate near the Senate chambers. The group protested the introduction of what would be a total abortion ban if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Photo by Susan Tebben, OCJ.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is spending the last weeks of the year considering the last of many abortion bills presented this year in the state.

Though he hasn’t yet affixed his signature to Senate Bill 157 — a bill that would not only create new felony charges for doctors but also threaten their licenses, and keep physicians who are funded by the state’s public medical schools from helping abortion clinics — DeWine is expected to approve the measure.

The bill officially passed the General Assembly on Dec. 15, and a spokesperson for DeWine said the governor is reviewing the legislation.

“But I will note that Governor DeWine has long stated it is the obligation of government to protect the most vulnerable in our society, including the unborn,” press secretary Dan Tierney told the OCJ.

The bill caps a year of legislation and anti-abortion measures throughout the state, some that are dependent on decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court that could impact the 1970s-era Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion nationwide.

The legislature introduced a “trigger ban” in November that would take effect in the event that the country’s high court deems the issue a matter of individual states, rather than a blanket right for the entire country, as justices on the court decided in Roe.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost added to the efforts, signing on to a letter with 23 fellow state attorneys general asking the court to do just that — allow the states to decide whether abortion should occur.

Though legislators said anti-abortion measures have the support of a majority of Ohioans, Pew Research Center polls show a narrow majority of Ohioans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

The state’s operating budget bill even targeted some issues related to abortion and abortion clinics, with regulations for variances to hospital transfer agreements between doctors and abortion clinics. The budget bill also allowed a “conscientious objection” clause, saying medical professionals can morally, ethically or religiously object to providing medical treatment.

The state budget included allocations for “crisis pregnancy centers,” which are typically run by religious organizations, and abstinence only sex education.

Four Ohio cities have taken up their own regulatory measures, with Mason, Lebanon, Celina and London all posing municipality-wide bans on abortion. The bans couldn’t prohibit abortion providers from being present in their areas, but would ban any procedures.

Lebanon and Mason both passed their ordinances, but Mason’s was repealed after some supporters of the ban were voted out in November.

Abortion bans in Celina and London both failed in their first votes.

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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 Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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