The latest bill would protect doctors who perform lifesaving procedures and treatment on pregnant women, even if the treatment could “unintentionally result in the termination of the pregnancy,” and provide affirmative defense to women and others who “help law enforcement officers investigate abortions.”
“Up until this point, legislators have only regulated abortion,” Hood, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said in a statement. “They have decided which classes of people have a Right to Life by creating exceptions to abortion, which is tantamount to creating exceptions to pre-meditated murder.”
In an interview with The Post late Thursday, Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said Keller and Hood had introduced a similar, flat-out abortion ban in the previous General Assembly. While she has not seen this bill’s language, she expects it to be similar to the last session’s legislation, which Copeland said did not pass in either chamber.
A total ban was also introduced in 2006, she added.
“They want to ban abortion; they want to classify it legally as murder; they want to impose criminal penalties against people who get abortions and people who provide them,” Copeland said. “That’s been the goal of all of the abortion legislation we’ve seen in Ohio. This kind of legislation is revealing the ultimate agenda of our opponents.”
The proposal follows a wave of red-state restrictions on abortion as conservative lawmakers seek a reexamination of Roe v. Wade, contributing to a growing gap in states’ stances. This year’s new laws have been repeatedly blocked by the courts.
One “heartbeat” bill — which prohibits abortion after detection of the fetal pulse typically found about six weeks into pregnancy — was signed into law in April by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R). The law made no exceptions for rape or incest but allowed procedures to save a pregnant woman’s life or prevent her serious physical impairment. Medical providers who violated the law faced a year in prison and a $2,500 fine.
A federal judge halted the law over the summer after the ACLU of Ohio, Planned Parenthood and other groups sued. Ohio women’s obstacles to abortion under the new measure would be “not merely ‘substantial,’ but, rather, ‘insurmountable,’ ” the judge wrote.
Copeland said the latest proposed bill, which has 19 co-sponsors, has dire implications as Roe v. Wade is increasingly threatened.
“This is something that … we’ve been battling in Ohio legislature for over a decade,” she said. “The stakes are so much higher now because the majority on the Supreme Court has changed with the Trump presidency and all the appointments on the federal courts.”
Alabama’s move to outlaw abortions even in cases of rape and incest drew particular attention in May as Gov. Kay Ivey (R) approved the most restrictive ban in the country, despite recent polling suggesting that four out of five people in the state oppose an abortion ban.
The bill, which targeted doctors with up to 99 years’ imprisonment for performing the procedure, made exceptions only for fetuses unlikely to survive outside the womb and cases in which the mother’s life is in danger.
Backers of Alabama’s law were open about their desire to trigger a Supreme Court review with measure much more restrictive than what Roe v. Wade allows.
“This bill is about challenging Roe v. Wade and protecting the lives of the unborn because an unborn baby is a person who deserves love and protection,” said Alabama state Rep. Terri Collins (R), the bill’s sponsor.
After a federal judge blocked Alabama’s law late last month, the ACLU announced that “none of the state abortion bans passed earlier this year are in effect.” Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Ohio and Utah had all approved some form of an abortion ban, the group said, though none as strict as Alabama’s.
The year’s flurry of new legislation followed a longer trend. Between 1973 and 2010, states approved nine laws restricting abortion after a certain point of pregnancy or fully outlawing it, according to data from the abortion rights advocacy group the Guttmacher Institute. Since 2011, they’ve passed nearly three times that number.