News Abortion

Ohio Proposes “Sex-Selective Abortion Ban”

Robin Marty

The state proposes adding yet another abortion restriction to its books.

Spurned on by the alleged instances of “gender-based” abortions in the country, Ohio is considering trying to ban the practice.

Via the Columbus Dispatch:

[Rep. Cheryl] Grossman and Rep. Matt Lynch, R-Bainbridge Township, modeled the bill after the federal proposal known as the Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act [PRENDA]. The bill would require medical professionals to report any violations, and patients would be exempt from liability.

“I believe that every life is precious, and I am appalled that this practice exists in our nation,” Grossman said. “The innocent lives being ended by this horrific and inexcusable practice must be stopped immediately in Ohio.”

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PRENDA failed to pass the House nationally when proposed by Rep. Trent Franks.

News Abortion

Washington State GOP Advances ‘Sex-Selective’ Abortion Ban

Nicole Knight Shine

Language in the anti-choice bill doesn't indicate how an abortion provider is to determine the reason the patient has chosen to receive abortion care.

A Republican-backed Washington state bill to criminalize so-called sex-selective abortions passed out of the state senate’s Law and Justice Committee this week in a 4-3 party-line vote.

The bill cites similar policies in countries such as India and China, noting, “The victims of sex-selection abortion are overwhelmingly female.” National research has shown there is no discrepancy between the gender ratios of births by Asian-American women and women of other races in the United States.

Under SB 6612, abortion providers who knowingly perform or attempt to perform an abortion on the basis of gender could face up to five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. The crime would be a felony, and a doctor would lose his or her medical license.

Language in the anti-choice bill does not indicate how an abortion provider is to determine the reason the patient has chosen to end a pregnancy. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other civil rights groups have described so-called sex-selective abortion bans as legislation with “discriminatory intent.”

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Senate Law and Justice Committee Chairman Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley), one of the bill’s sponsors, described the legislation as a “very modest step to restrict abortion,” at the committee meeting Wednesday. Lawmakers, he noted, “have an obligation to protect the most vulnerable among us.”

Law and Justice Committee member Sen. Jamie Pedersen (D-Seattle) countered that the bill might violate doctor-patient privacy by requiring physicians to ask whether the gender of the fetus was the reason for the abortion.

Anti-choice advocates often point to a trio of studies that suggest the prevalence of sex-selective abortion among a small number of immigrant women, but the practice is not considered a widespread problem in the United States.

Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center), one of the bill’s sponsors, told the Associated Press that other states passed similar bans and she wanted to “have a collegial discussion about it.”

At least 13 states have introduced legislation to outlaw abortions based on sex, race, or genetics, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Arizona prohibits abortions based on gender or race.

The Law and Justice Committee heard public testimony on the legislation on Tuesday. Opponents called SB 6612 a thinly disguised ploy to chip away at safe and legal abortion care.

Rachel Berkson, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, said in a statement that the bill is a “disingenuous, inflammatory, and an unenforceable invasion of privacy that would require doctors to act as mind readers and law-enforcement officers instead of caregivers.”

“NARAL opposes any kind of reproductive coercion,” she said. “But bans on sex-selective abortions do nothing to address the gender inequalities that impact women and girls in our state, including gender pay inequity, lack of workplace protections for pregnant women, and barriers to access for women seeking contraception and basic reproductive health care.”

SB 6612 now moves to the Republican-dominated Senate Rules Committee, a senate staffer told Rewire. The Rules Committee is made up of 12 Republicans and nine Democrats. The next step would be the full state senate, which is equally represented by Republicans and Democrats.

News Politics

Ohio Republicans Vote to Defund Planned Parenthood

Jenn Stanley

If Gov. John Kasich signs the bill into law, it would take away $1.3 million in state funding for Planned Parenthood's maternal and preventive health-care programs.

Ohio’s Republican-controlled house on Tuesday voted 62-30 in favor of a bill to pull public funding from Planned Parenthood.

HB 294 was sponsored by Rep. Margaret Conditt (R-Liberty Township) and Rep. Bill Patmon (D-Cleveland). Patmon was the only Democrat to vote in favor of the bill. The state senate passed its companion bill, SB 214, last month.

The bill redirects public funds from entities that promote or perform elective abortions. It was aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood after the release of the surreptitiously recorded, highly edited videos made by the anti-choice front group Center for Medical Progress, which has worked closely with GOP legislators in attacking funding for the health-care organization.

This bill is one more push in the direction of Gov. John Kasich’s and the Ohio state legislature’s staunch anti-choice agenda. Kasich signed a two-year budget bill in 2013 that included, among other anti-choice measures, stringent new licensing regulations for abortion clinics in the state. It resulted in the closure of half of Ohio’s outpatient abortion clinics.

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Kasich also appointed Michael L. Gonidakis, president of the anti-choice organization Ohio Right to Life, to the State of Ohio Medical Board.

Ohio provided about $3.7 million to the state’s 28 Planned Parenthood clinics in the most recent fiscal year. Medicaid reimbursements made up about $2.4 million of that funding. HB 294 would not affect Medicaid reimbursements. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio said that the funding specifically targets its “Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies” program that aims to prevent infant mortality.

Ohio has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country, with especially elevated rates among Black and Hispanic infants, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Those in favor of the bill say that the funds will be redirected to about 200 health-care facilities, but many opposed don’t think those health centers could fill the gap left by Planned Parenthood’s defunding. Kelli Arthur Hykes, the director of public health policy at Columbus Public Health, testified against the bill.

“Local health departments don’t have the capacity to take on all the displaced patients. For example, in Columbus, we estimate that with additional funding, we would be able to grow our sexual health and women’s health services by about ten percent over the next few years,” Hykes said. “This would barely put a dent in the anticipated need, especially if there is an immediate loss of funding for Planned Parenthood before a local health department could ramp up services.”

Reproductive rights advocates paused debate hearings when they unfurled a banner from the balcony that said “Respect the living. Fund Planned Parenthood.”

“Testimony given by people all around our state—from Planned Parenthood staff to community partners—demonstrated that women and men rely on Planned Parenthood. Their stories and experiences directly contradict what is being said by the legislators who support this bill,” Stephanie Kight, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, said in a statement. “Their blatant disregard for the truth and the well-being of Ohioans is shameful. They are willing to disrupt community programs that help some of our most vulnerable citizens, all to score cheap political points. These are not the leaders that the people of our state deserve.”