COLUMBUS, Ohio – The next article was originally published in the Ohio Capital Journal and posted on News5Cleveland.com under a content sharing agreement.
The battle over abortion in Ohio will only be stopped by the United States Supreme Court or by a change in the United States Constitution, according to reproductive law experts and those pushing again for a ban on abortion.
Two state lawmakers have introduced a bill making abortion procedures a felony, marking the second time in as many years that a bill has been introduced in hopes of overturning the ruling Roe v. Wade, the National Supreme Court ruling that declared abortion legal across the country.
A doctor accused of “causing or inducing an abortion” would face an official charge of “criminal abortion”, which would constitute a fourth degree felony under the new law. Senate bill, recently introduced to the Ohio Senate.
If signed, the bill would not come into effect until the United States Supreme Court overturns the 1973 decision in Roe. V. Wade, who legalized abortion nationwide, or an amendment to the US Constitution “confirms Ohio’s authority under the federal system to ban abortion,” according to an office statement by Senator Kristina Roegner, co-sponsor of the bill.
“I believe that when the United States Supreme Court considers a challenge to Roe, it will realize that the original 1973 ruling was gravely flawed and will return abortion authority to the states,” Roegner said in the communicated.
Almost a year ago to the day, former State Representative John Becker introduced similar legislation, which would have prevented the payment of public funds for abortion-related services and created a first degree felony charge of “manslaughter”.
Becker’s Bill never received a hearing, and therefore never budged in the 133rd General assembly. Currently, abortions are legal in Ohio up to 22 weeks gestation.
Both bills provide for an exception in the case where “the abortion was necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman”, as the current bill reads.
Ohio is one of the few states trying to pass anti-abortion laws and create a review of Roe v. Wade.
The fight against abortion in the state has continued since the Roe v. Wade, but a law professor who also works on the challenges of abortion says the past few years have been more active than most.
“I think there is almost nothing that is beyond pale right now,” said Professor Jessie Hill of Case Western Reserve University.
Hill is also the cooperating attorney for the ACLU, which has five lawsuits against state abortion measures pending concurrently, including one filed this week challenge a law on burial and cremation after surgical abortion. Since Hill returned to Ohio in 2001, she has only seen efforts to regulate abortion intensify year after year.
“All of a sudden these bills started to pass, and in recent years they’ve been more and more extreme,” Hill said, adding that the gerrymandering creating a Republican-leaning legislature has helped increase in anti-abortion legislation.
Anti-abortion groups are lining up to support the bill, with the Ohio Right to Life lobby group calling the legislation “powerful and life-affirming.”
“For the first time since abortion was legalized, we have a pro-life majority on the (US) Supreme Court,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life. “Roe v. Wade is hanging on by a thread. Ohio needs to be prepared for what is to come. “
The Ohio chapter of Planned Parenthood said the latest bill restricted access to care rather than improving lives.
“SB 123 is the latest blatant attack on abortion access from Ohio General Assembly leaders who focus solely on eliminating legal access to abortion, in disregard everything else – including the pandemic. “
Hill sees a constitutional amendment as a long plan, with a requirement for 75% state support to make it happen.
Targeting a U.S. Supreme Court decision is a greater possibility, and even if the high court decides not to overturn the decision as a whole, Hill says reducing the protections included in Roe v. Wade is something that is not often considered as the debate continues.
“I think it’s an underestimated possibility that the court isn’t really interested in overthrowing Roe v. Wade, but that it would reduce it to next to nothing, ”Hill said.
Ohio’s new bill will now go to a House committee for hearings and review.