Ohio Omnibus Abortion Budget Bill (HB 59)

This law was last updated on Dec 17, 2018


**The TRAP provision requirements of this law are blocked, per Capital Care Network of Toledo v. State Ohio Department of Health (2016).

**The Ohio Senate dropped the heartbeat ban from the bill. In 2018, the GOP-controlled legislature would pass a heartbeat abortion ban, HB 258

SUMMARY

HB 59, Ohio’s main operating budget for FY 2014-2015, contains multiple abortion restrictions and other provisions related to women’s health: (1) heartbeat ban (which was ultimately dropped from the bill); (2) a provision that redirects money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to crisis pregnancy centers; (3) a provision that establishes a priority list for family planning funds, essentially stripping funding for Planned Parenthood; (4) funding restriction for rape crisis centers that provide information about abortion; and (5) a TRAP provision that restricts public hospitals from entering into written transfer agreements with an ambulatory surgical facility that performs nontherapeutic abortions.

Fetal Heartbeat Detection

Requires that an abortion provider attempt to detect a fetal heartbeat using “standard medical practice” prior to an abortion. An abortion is prohibited if a fetal heartbeat is detected, unless there is a medical emergency, and an abortion is necessary to prevent the death of a pregnant woman or to prevent a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.

A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks of pregnancy—two weeks after a woman’s first missed period—and well before many women even realize that they are pregnant.

Vaginal ultrasounds are not required to detect a fetal heartbeat: The bill provides that the director of health shall promulgate rules relating to the appropriate methods for performing an exam to determine the presence of a fetal heartbeat, and that those rules “shall require only that an examination shall be performed externally.” Notably, Texas’ fetal heartbeat measure does not restrict the use of vaginal ultrasounds to detect a fetal heartbeat.

If a fetal heartbeat is detected, the bill requires the abortion provider to:
(1) inform the woman that the “unborn child” has a fetal heartbeat;
(2) provide information regarding statistical probability of bringing the “unborn child” to term based on its gestational age;
(3) obtain a signed form acknowledging that the woman has been provided this information;
(4) wait at least 24 hours before performing an abortion.

Makes the offense of performing or inducing an abortion without informed consent when there is a detectable fetal heartbeat a misdemeanor of the first degree on a first offense and a felony of the fourth degree on each subsequent offense. This provision was removed from the final budget.

Funding Restrictions for Family Planning

Establishes a priority list for the distribution of public funds (including federal funds) used for family planning services. The priority list puts Planned Parenthood last in line, virtually ensuring the defunding of Planned Parenthood and other groups that provide family planning services. According to testimony submitted by Women Have Options in opposition to HB 59, women and their families, specifically low-income women and their families, are targeted by these provisions.

Funds subject to the priority list include funds for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, but excludes funds awarded as women’s health services grants, which have their own order of priority as stated in Ohio Rev. Code § 3701.046. The women’s health services grants cannot be provided to any organization that performs abortions or provides counseling or referrals for abortions but can be provided to crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs).

In other words, funds for CPCs are not subject to the priority list for distribution of funds, but funds for TANF are, which means that CPCs will be fully funded before the TANF program is funded. (Incidentally, the Medicaid program is not subject to the priority list and will be fully funded, along with CPCs.)

Funding Restrictions for Rape Crisis Centers

The bill creates a funding mechanism for rape crisis centers, but excludes from the definition of “rape crisis center” any centers that provide counseling or referrals for abortion, except when done in case of emergency. The bill will prohibit distribution of funds to rape crisis centers that provide abortion counseling or referrals.

TRAP Provision 

HB 59 requires an ambulatory surgical facility (ASF) to have a written transfer agreement “with a local hospital that specifies an effective procedure for the safe and immediate transfer of patients from the facility to the hospital when medical care beyond the care that can be provided at the ambulatory surgical facility is necessary, including when emergency situations occur or medical complications arise.” The law states that the director of the Department of Health can grant a variance from the written transfer agreement requirement should an ASF apply for a variance. This provision is blocked.

The law also prohibits a public hospital from entering into a written transfer agreement with an ambulatory surgical facility (ASF) in which “nontherapeutic abortions” are performed or induced. This provision also prohibits a public hospital from authorizing a physician to use staff membership or professional privileges to meet the criteria for a variance from the requirement that an ASF in which nontherapeutic abortions are performed or induced have a written transfer agreement with a local hospital. This provision is blocked.

STATUS

On July 29, 2016, an Ohio court of appeals found that the TRAP provision of the law was unconstitutional under Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. (See Capital Care Network of Toledo v. Ohio.)


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