Roundups Abortion

Legislative Lowlights: Another Round of Near-Total Abortion Bans

Brie Shea

It’s starting to look like the theme for the 2019 legislative session will be near-total or even complete abortion bans.

Rewire.News tracks anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ legislation as it works its way through state legislatures. Here’s an overview of the bills we’re watching.

More near-total abortion bans are on the horizon, Michigan’s telemedicine abortion ban inched closer to a vote, and Ohio’s heartbeat abortion ban has been put on hold—for now.

Missouri

Lawmakers in Missouri have begun prefiling legislation in anticipation of the 2019 legislative session set to commence in just over a month. Earlier this week, state Rep. Nick Schroer (R-O’Fallon) and state Sen. Andrew Koenig (R-Manchester) prefiled measures HB 126/SB 139, which would prohibit providers from performing an abortion without first determining whether there is a detectable fetal heartbeat. If a fetal heartbeat is detected—which can occur as early as six weeks into pregnancy—doctors would be prohibited from performing an abortion. If a fetal heartbeat is not detected, the physician would be required to perform the abortion within 96 hours of the fetal heartbeat test. If an abortion is not performed within 96 hours of the test, the physician would need to perform a new test prior to an abortion. The measures—which amount to near-total abortion bans—are nearly identical to previous efforts by Koenig that failed to advance.

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Koenig also filed SB 110, which would require a physician performing an abortion to inform the pregnant patient that they may choose to have the fetal remains buried or cremated. As of publication, the actual text of the bill hasn’t been published. But according to the state senate legislative summary, the physician would need to inform the patient of this at least 72 hours prior to the abortion and any associated costs for burial or interment would be the responsibility of the patient. The bill would also allow for the issuance of a fetal death certificate at the patient’s request. Similar bills failed to pass in 2016 and 2017 in Missouri.

State Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg) and state Rep. Rocky Miller (R-Lake Ozark) both prefiled legislation this week regarding parental consent and notification for minors seeking abortion. HB 127/SB 106, would prohibit a physician from performing or inducing an abortion upon a minor without first obtaining the notarized written consent of both the minor and one of their parents or guardians and would require the consenting parent to notify any other custodial parent. Current state law only requires informed consent from the minor and one parent or guardian. Miller has sponsored identical or nearly identical versions of this bill since 2014.

Michigan

On Wednesday, a measure that would make permanent a 2012 telemedicine ban on prescribing medication abortion passed out of committee. The state House Committee on Health Policy reported SB 1198 without amendments and with a recommendation that it should pass. The bill—which passed the state senate last week—was referred to the order of second reading. If no amendments are offered, the bill will advance to its third and final reading, with a vote shortly after.

Ohio

In a bit of cautiously optimistic news, the Ohio Senate Health, Human Services, and Medicaid Committee delayed a vote Thursday on an unconstitutional fetal heartbeat abortion ban. Except in cases of a medical emergency, HB 258 would make it a felony for providers to perform an abortion without first determining whether there is a detectable fetal heartbeat. If a fetal heartbeat is detected—which can occur well before many even know they’re pregnant—doctors would be prohibited from performing an abortion. Thanks to a time crunch, a guaranteed veto, and no clear indication that GOP lawmakers would even have enough votes to override said veto, there’s a good chance the bill is stalled. That being said, it will more than likely be introduced again during the 2019 legislative session under the incoming governorship of Republican Mike DeWine, who has pledged to sign any heartbeat bill that makes it to his desk.

Looking Ahead…

It’s starting to look like the theme for the 2019 legislative session will be near-total or even complete abortion bans. Last week, a self-proclaimed “abolitionist” lawmaker in Oklahoma prefiled a measure to ban legal abortion in the state by making it a felony crime punishable by life imprisonment. As mentioned earlier, Missouri has a pair of fetal heartbeat abortion bans ready for introduction. Ohio lawmakers will certainly introduce another fetal heartbeat bill if HB 258 is indeed stalled for good this session. Republicans in Texas want to grant rights to fetuses and strip doctors of their medical licenses if they perform an abortion. And earlier this week, conservative lawmakers in South Carolina announced their intentions to push for a fetal heartbeat abortion ban. To be sure, these types of measures aren’t new. But with Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, and President Trump packing the federal courts with anti-choice judges, conservative lawmakers have a very real chance at dismantling abortion rights for good. 2019 is going to be a mess.

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