News Abortion

Ohio “Heartbeat” Bill Stalled For Legal Analysis

Robin Marty

The controversial bill won't be voted on until November at the earliest.

The Ohio bill to ban all abortions from the point in which a heartbeat can be detected is in yet another round of limbo, as senate leaders ask for a legal analysis before bringing it up for a vote.

Via The Republic:

The Ohio Senate’s Republican leader says he’s asking a group of state lawmakers to review legal questions related to a bill that would ban abortions at the first detectable fetal heartbeat.

President Tom Niehaus (NEE’-hows) said Tuesday he wants the group to vet any legal issues and report back to him in November.

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Let’s see if “totally violates Roe V. Wade” is considered a “legal issue.”

News Abortion

Ohio Bill Uses Faux Disability Rights Language to Erode Choice

Nina Liss-Schultz

Anti-choice Ohio lawmakers have introduced a bill that would ban abortion after a Down syndrome diagnosis, a proposal that Ohio Right to Life listed among its 2015 legislative priorities.

Anti-choice Ohio lawmakers have introduced a bill that would ban abortion after a Down syndrome diagnosis, a proposal that Ohio Right to Life listed among its 2015 legislative priorities.

The bill, HB 135, would make it a felony to perform an abortion on a pregnant person who “is seeking the abortion solely because” of a fetal Down syndrome diagnosis.

“These legislative proposals interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and exploit complicated issues that can arise during pregnancy in the worst way,” Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said in a statement. “Medical decisions should not be made in the Statehouse, they should be made in doctors’ offices based on sound medical science.”

Ohio Right to Life in February listed what it called the “Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act” among its top six legislative priorities for the state, writing that “while elective abortion is never the right choice, it’s particularly egregious that unborn children can be denied life simply due to the presence of a disability.”

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Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life and a member of the Ohio State Medical Board, recently echoed that sentiment, telling Cleveland.com that “everyone wants to be born perfect and none of us are, and we don’t think we should devalue life based on a false sense of perfection.”

Disability selection abortions, and in particular abortions after a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome, have increasingly become the target of anti-choice legislation, or, as Rewire writer David Perry wrote, the “wedge” being forced between reproductive and disability rights activists by anti-choice advocates.

Though they use the language of disability rights, bills like the one in Ohio belie a conservative interest in restricting access to abortion under any circumstances, not in advocating for people who are disabled. As Perry wrote:

The tension between reproductive and disability rights that these kinds of bills seek to worsen is not a new problem; in fact, there has been a false choice between the two movements since the developments of amniocentesis made disability-selection abortion possible…What’s changed, though, is the intensifying emphasis on Down syndrome in the anti-choice legal maneuvering. As prenatal tests become cheaper and available earlier, they are being used in more and more pregnancies. As a result, anti-choicers are using their alleged concerns for disability rights as a way to erode choice.

Ohio is one of several states to push anti-choice bills using faux disability rights language. Indiana legislators introduced a similar bill this year, though it encompasses all disabilities, not just Down syndrome.

North Dakota in 2013 became the first state to pass a ban on abortion after a genetic anomaly has been detected in the fetus. Three states require counseling on perinatal hospice service available before an abortion due to a lethal fetal condition.

News Abortion

Ohio House Approves Abortion Bill Deemed Extreme by Some Anti-Choice Activists

Nina Liss-Schultz

The Ohio house on Thursday passed a bill to ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many people know they are pregnant. A similar six-week ban approved in North Dakota several years ago was found to be unconstitutional.

The Ohio house on Thursday passed a bill to ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many people know they are pregnant. A similar six-week ban approved in North Dakota several years ago was found to be unconstitutional.

Republican Gov. John Kasich, along with anti-choice advocates in the state, have said they cannot support the bill, HB 69, because it is clearly unconstitutional.

“My feeling about it is I share the concerns of Right to Life about this bill and about potential litigation, but it’s a long way to Tipperary,” Kasich told the Columbus Dispatch on the eve of the vote in the GOP-controlled house. “The house is not the senate and it’s not through, so I like not to comment too much on pending legislation.”

Ohio Right to Life, which is attempting to push through other restrictive abortion laws, including a 20-week ban, did not support previous versions of HB 69 because it has been found to be patently unconstitutional.

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“Even if we disagree about abortion, we can agree it’s best for each person to make her own decision,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. “The bill is designed to make that impossible by essentially banning abortion. Not only is this bill extremely wrong-headed and terrible for women and families, there’s absolutely no way it will ever stand up in court.”

The Ohio house has once before passed a so-called fetal heartbeat ban, but the proposal died in the senate. A similar bill was introduced last year but did not make it through the house.

This year, the bill, which had 50 co-sponsors, passed the house by a vote of 55 to 40. The bill would make providing an abortion after the detection of a heartbeat a fifth-degree felony for the physician, with a fine of up to $2,500.

Though an exception is provided for the health of the pregnant person, the bill gives no exception for pregnancy resulting from rape or incest.

Republicans control both the Ohio house and senate by wide margins.