Another abortion ban hits Ohio House, depends on Roe v. Wade

By: - March 17, 2022 3:50 am

Anti-abortion demonstrators march. (Photo by Robert Zullo/ States Newsroom).

Yet another “trigger” ban on abortion that relies on the rejection of Roe v. Wade has entered the Ohio House.

House Bill 598 was introduced on Tuesday by state Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland. The bill would ban all abortions in Ohio except for those performed “to save the life of the mother,” according to the bill.

The bill would take effect if the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide, is struck down.

The decision is getting another look as the court considers Dobbs. V. Jackson Women’s Health, a 15-week near-total abortion ban out of Mississippi. The court heard oral arguments on the case in December, and is expected to rule on it this summer.

“With the U.S. Supreme Court hearing the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, there is renewed hope that states will once again be able to outlaw abortion and protect the most vulnerable in our society,” Schmidt said in a statement.

Schmidt’s bill would not only ban the abortion procedure, but also medications, instruments or devices “intended for the purpose of abortions.”

The new legislation deems an organism as an “unborn child” from “fertilization until live birth.”

The only time an abortion is allowed under the bill is when two physician submit in writing that the abortion was necessary in their “reasonable medical judgment” to avoid death or serious risk to the pregnant individual.

The physician performing the abortion also has to do so “in the manner that provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive,” according to the language of the bill.

Violations of the bill can result in a charge of “criminal abortion,” designated as a fourth-degree felony.

Physicians can face the loss of their medical licenses for violating the law, civil action can be conducted against them as well.

The House bill has a companion bill in the Ohio Senate, which has been around since September.

Senate Bill 123 was brought by state Sen. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, and Sen. Sandra O’Brien, R-Ashtabula.

O’Brien argued during hearings in the Senate Health Committee that the overturning of Roe v. Wade merely brings the question of abortion bans from the federal U.S. Supreme Court to individual state legislators across the country.

O’Brien also said the Senate bill does not include a provision for abortions in the case of rape or incest because the person “could always take contraception.”

Pro-abortion groups in Ohio like Pro-Choice Ohio and Planned Parenthood stand in opposition to the trigger bans, saying they won’t make abortion happen less, but create unsafe situations for abortions to take place, or cause patients to go across state lines to obtain their abortions.

“The majority of Ohioans believe we should be able to access legal abortion, but time and time again these politicians are more concerned about themselves. Ohioans deserve legislators who listen to them and keep their communities safe,” Lauren Blauvelt-Copelin, vice president of government affairs and public advocacy, said in a statement.

HB 598 is awaiting its House committee assignment, where it will then face hearings and public testimony.

Several other pieces of abortion-related legislation have passed through the Ohio legislature recently, and have ended up in the courts. A Hamilton County judge has ruled three different times against the state’s abortion legislation, once against a bill requiring cremation or burial of fetal tissue remains, then against a ban on telemedicine as a method of receiving medication abortion treatment.

Most recently, Judge Alison Hatheway temporarily blocked Senate Bill 157, which would keep physicians who are affiliated with public medical schools in the state from working with abortion clinics.

Currently in Ohio, abortion is legal until 22 weeks gestation, or 20 weeks postfertilization.

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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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