Today, the Republican-controlled Ohio Senate voted to pass a controversial abortion ban, House Bill 258. Ohio Senate Democrats denounced the bill, which would prohibit abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected.
“Instead of focusing on improving health care for Ohioans, our legislature passed an extreme bill designed to chip away at a woman’s constitutional right to choose,” said Ohio Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights). “We should be passing laws that reduce the need for abortion, like comprehensive sex education and paid family leave for new parents, not putting ourselves in between a woman and her access to care.”
A change accepted during Senate Health Committee today clarified that the bill does not require a woman seeking an abortion to receive a transvaginal ultrasound, which can detect a fetal heartbeat as early as six weeks.
“This is the holiday message the General Assembly is sending to Ohio women: regardless of whether you can mentally or physically carry a pregnancy to term and regardless of whether a fetus was conceived through rape or incest, we don’t trust you and you are still ‘chattel.’ We don’t trust that you have the capacity to make decisions that are in the best interest of your family, body, health or well-being,” said Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) who also serves as Ranking Minority Member on Senate Health Committee. “Our male-dominated legislature continues to actively pursue policies which restrict a woman’s right to reproductive care, while simultaneously ignoring a man’s role in conception and childcare after birth.”
Over 40 years ago, abortion was established as a constitutional right in America as the result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Today, nearly 70 percent of Americans support the Court’s decision and do not want it overturned, according to the Pew Research Center.
“This is political intrusion into an extremely personal and difficult decision that a woman should make with her family and doctor,” said Senator Vernon Sykes (D-Akron)
. “The Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that a woman has the right to choose and lawmakers should honor that precedent.”“The goal of this legislation is clear: to make Ohio one of the most conservative states in the country by passing the most restrictive anti-choice bill that doesn’t even have the full support of the sponsor’s party,” said Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland). “HB 258 is not about protecting children. In some cases, this legislation allows for the suffering of children by granting no exceptions to fetuses with extremely poor prognoses. Ohio does not have the support in place to prevent this law from placing a severe strain on women and families across the state of Ohio.”
Senate Democrats introduced several amendments to the bill, all of which were tabled, including provisions to:
- Make exemptions for cases of rape, incest and the woman’s mental health
- Allow emergency rooms to provide rape victims information about emergency contraceptives
- Eliminate the statute of limitations on rape
- Establish standards for facilities storing embryos, eggs and other reproductive tissues
- Require mandatory health insurance coverage for maternity services
“I’ve tried to draw attention to the many ways that this bill is problematic; it’s demeaning to women, unconstitutional and could make physicians into criminals,” said Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman)
. “So today I took a different approach and gave women and survivors a voice by reading their words on the floor.”The bill now goes back to the House for concurrence before it is sent to Governor John Kasich for his consideration. When the legislature passed a similar six-week abortion ban in 2016, the Governor vetoed it. Kasich has indicated that he will again use his veto power to stop HB 258.Another anti-abortion bill is progressing through the Lame Duck legislature. Senate Bill 145, which would prohibit a safe and common second trimester abortion method, passed in House committee on Tuesday.