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Ohio Lawmakers Introduce Total Abortion Ban

On Wednesday, lawmakers in Ohio introduced a bill banning all abortions in the state. 

The bill has a similar structure as Texas’s SB8, deputizing private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone who helps someone access abortion care. Those lawsuits can reach $10,000 or more.

Much like in Texas’s law, the bill is designed to evade judicial scrutiny and to weaken defendants’ cases as much as possible.

The bill bans defendants “in civil suits from claiming ignorance or mistake of law as defense, in addition to any personal belief that the legislation is unconstitutional.” It also prohibits defendants from using a court’s decision’s ruling as a defense if it is later overruled, even if it is intact at the time of the abortion. 

The law extends even further than Texas’s, which bans abortion after six weeks. Neither provides exception for rape or incest. In the case of Texas, few people know that they are pregnant at six weeks– over 85% of abortions occur after that six-week mark.

“We know when things are criminalized, Black folks, women of color and nonbinary people are the ones most under scrutiny,” Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said. “Other people who have the money will find a way to flee Ohio to get the care they need.”

“It’s an egregious assault on women, a dangerous attack on healthcare rights and an embarrassment for our state. Ohio Republicans want to control women, but we won’t be silent,” said Minority Leader Emilia Sykes in a statement. “Criminalizing care will disproportionately impact women of color, nonbinary people and those already at a disadvantage in our health and criminal justice system.”

“Banning abortion would be catastrophic to communities across Ohio,” said Lauren Blauvelt-Copelin of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio. “Lawmakers and anti-abortion vigilantes have no business making personal medical decisions for their neighbors.”

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments for procedural challenges to SB8 on Monday, after refusing to block the law before its implementation on September 1.

The Supreme Court is also scheduled to hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a challenge to Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban.

Sources: The Hill 11/3/21; Cincinnati Enquirer 11/2/21; Cleveland.com 11/2/21

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