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Anti-Choice Ohio Governor to Consider 20-Week Abortion Ban After Legislature Passes Bill

Michelle D. Anderson

SB 127 makes no exceptions for rape or incest and only gives pregnant people immunity when they are at risk for death or permanent organ damage.

Republican Gov. John Kasich now has two anti-choice measures on his desk after the Ohio legislature passed a 20-week abortion ban late Thursday.

SB 127 makes no exceptions for rape or incest and only gives pregnant people immunity when they are at risk of death or permanent organ damage.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio noted in a statement that Rep. Niraj Antani (R-Miami Township) had amended the bill in the house to remove complications from diabetes and multiple sclerosis as possible exceptions, “making an already dangerously narrow life exemption even more narrow.”

This change required the bill to go to the full senate Thursday night for a final concurrence vote, NARAL explained.

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Twenty-week bans are unconstitutional because doctors typically do not consider fetuses viable before that time period. Further, a popular diagnostic test for birth defects, amniocentesis, is typically performed between 15 and 20 weeks, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)—which means pregnant people may not find out about fetal abnormalities until after 20 weeks.

Ohio Reps. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) and Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) had proposed amendments that would have added exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and fetal anomalies. The legislature, however, rejected both, according to NARAL.

Ohio Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) said the twice-defeated bill returned because politicians anticipate the election of President-elect Trump will usher in more anti-choice U.S. Supreme Court justices, the Associated Press reported.

The bill’s passing comes just two days after Ohio lawmakers passed an unconstitutional six-week abortion ban as part of a larger child abuse and neglect bill.

That law, HB 493, would ban abortion care after a fetal heartbeat is detected, although a federal court struck down a similar law that passed in North Dakota in 2013.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland called the recently passed anti-choice measures “draconian abortion bills” and urged Kasich to veto the laws.

“Kasich often talks about how he cares about the people who are struggling economically in our state. Now is the time to prove it,” Copeland said.

Statistics from the Ohio Department of Health indicate that pregnancy termination 20 weeks after fertilization is rare, as only 145 abortions past 21 weeks were performed in 2015. More than half the procedures took place no later than nine weeks.

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