This week, Ohio lawmakers passed and sent two anti-abortion bills that would restrict abortion access to Governor John Kasich’s office. Opponents of the two bills, the Heartbeat Bill and the Dilation and Evacuation Ban, stated that both bills are unconstitutional and would have a detrimental impact on the state’s health care system. Neither bill includes exceptions for rape or incest.
The Heartbeat bill, HB 258, would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which could occur as early as 6 weeks and before individuals know they are pregnant. Doctors who perform abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected could be charged with a fifth-degree felony, a crime punishable by up to one year in prison and a $2,500 fine. The bill passed the Ohio House 53-32 and the Ohio Senate 18-13. Similar laws passed in Arkansas, Iowa and North Dakota were blocked by the courts.
The Dilation and Evacuation Ban, SB 145, bans an abortion procedure called dilation and evacuation. This common second-trimester procedure was performed 3441 times in 2017; one of every six of these procedures performed was in Ohio. The law passed the Ohio House 62-27 and the Ohio Senate 23-9. Dilation and Evacuation procedures have been banned in Mississippi and West Virginia already. Other states have passed laws to penalize the procedure, but federal courts ruled the laws unconstitutional.
The two anti-abortion bills have sparked major criticism among doctors and pro-choice politicians and activists. In her statement, Dr. Natalie Hinchcliffe, a Family Medicine Provider in Cleveland and a Fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health, said that these bills would harm patients, would prevent doctors from providing the best care for their patients, and do not have any medical evidence or justifications. Further, Dr. Hinchcliffe wrote that “these bills are an attack on women, on families and on the freedom and well-being of our state. Please do not put politics before medicine.”
Pro-choice lawmakers also fear what the two bills’ impact on the state’s health care system will be. Ohio Senator Charleta Tavares fears that the two bills, which threaten doctors who provide abortion care with prison time, would push doctors to practice and medical students to study elsewhere. Sen. Tavares fears the two bills would further increase the shortage of doctors in Ohio.
Governor Kasich has promised to veto the Heartbeat Bill, but, did not comment on the second abortion bill. Once a bill is sent to Governor Kasich, he has 10 days to sign, veto or let a bill take effect without his signature. If Governor Kasich vetoes the bills, lawmakers can also reverse the veto with support from three-fifths of legislators in the State Senate and House.
Newswire Sources: Cincinnati.com 12/13/18; Bustle 12/13/18; Dr. Natalie Hinchcliffe Statement