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Ohio Republicans Again Propose Outlawing All Abortions

Abortion protesters at the Ohio Statehouse.
Jo Ingles
Statehouse News Bureau
Abortion protesters at the Ohio Statehouse.

A new GOP bill would outlaw all abortions in Ohio and subject medical professionals who facilitate the procedure to possible murder charges.

This bill legally recognizes a fetus as a human and would remove all authorizations for abortions in to take place in Ohio. The legislation, which is being sponsored by 21 of the 99 Ohio House members, is championed by the Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio.

Sponsors intend the bill to spark a legal challenge against "Roe v Wade," the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in 1973.

Under this bill, a whistle-blower provision provides affirmative defense to those who help law enforcement officers investigate abortions. A woman who has received an abortion could provide facts for the prosecution to help convict medical professionals involved in the procedure, in an effort to mitigate or defeat criminal charges brought against her. 

This is not the first time a complete abortion ban has been proposed in the Ohio Legislature. A similar bill was introduced in 2018 but didn't get enough traction to pass.

Critics have raised questions about whether a ban like this could lead to a woman who had a miscarriage being arrested and charged.

Supporters of legal abortion plan to fight this bill. And if it were to pass, legal challenges are certain.

But many abortion opponents say a fight is what they want, and think the new conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court will reverse course on "Roe v. Wade."

Other recent anti-abortion laws in Ohio have already been held up in court, including the "heartbeat" bill that bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, and a law banning abortions based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome. Federal courts have also blocked or overturned similarly restrictive abortion bans across the country.

Republicans in the Ohio Senate recently passed two bills with new restrictions for doctors that provide abortions, which Democrats say are based on "junk science."

Earlier this week, state Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) embarked on a trip to El Salvador with lawmakers from a handful of anti-abortion states to experience what life is like in a country that has an abortion ban.