Ohio Lawmakers Pass Multiple Extreme Abortion Bans

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Center for Reproductive Rights urges Governor Kasich to veto Ohio abortion bans
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(PRESS RELEASE) Today, the Ohio state senate passed a law (HB 258) that would effectively ban abortion outright. The law makes it a crime for doctors to provide an abortion once a heartbeat has been detected—around six weeks of pregnancy. Yesterday, Ohio legislators passed a separate bill (SB 145) banning the most common method of ending a pregnancy after approximately 15 weeks—a method known as D&E abortion. The Center for Reproductive Rights sent letters to Governor Kasich today urging him to veto both bills.

 “Ohio is hell-bent on enacting a mountain of abortion restrictions to effectively end abortion in the state,” said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “It’s unconstitutional and unconscionable. Today, they banned abortion before a woman even knows she’s pregnant. Yesterday, they banned the most common abortion method for women after 15-weeks of pregnancy. Governor Kasich should immediately veto these laws. Otherwise, women will be forced once again to go to court to vindicate their long-established right to make for themselves the important decisions about their health and lives. It’s time for Ohio politicians to address women’s health needs, not pass criminal abortion laws that are an insult to their dignity and harmful to their health.”

The Supreme Court established in Roe v. Wade and reaffirmed just two years ago that a state cannot deny women the ultimate decision to terminate a pregnancy prior to viability. As a result of that clear law, courts have consistently struck down bans on abortion before viability as unconstitutional. Last month, a Mississippi district court struck down a fifteen-week ban, determining that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of reproductive autonomy for women. If enacted, HB 258 would be the most extreme abortion restriction since Roe v. Wade.

Major medical organizations, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) oppose these types of bans, writing “these restrictions represent legislative interference at its worst: doctors will be forced, by ill-advised, unscientifically motivated policy, to provide lesser care to patients. This is unacceptable.” The bill would also create harmful criminal liabilities for physicians.

Ohio women already face a slew of barriers to abortion—for example, women must receive biased counseling designed to deter them from having an abortion, and then wait 24 hours before getting the procedure. Minors must get consent from a parent before an abortion is provided, and doctors cannot use telemedicine to prescribe pills for medication abortion. Furthermore, state healthcare plans offered under the Affordable Care Act—as well as plans for public employees—only cover abortion if the woman’s life is endangered, or in cases of rape or incest.