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Ohio legislature considers abortion bans punishable by death penalty



Planned Parenthood
on by Carol McDonald from Planned Parenthood Federation of
America, women rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday,
July 11, 2013.

J. Scott Applewhite
(Associated Press)

  • The Ohio state legislature is considering two bills that
    would ban and criminalize abortion in the state.
  • The Ohio House passed a bill to ban abortion after six weeks,
    which Gov. John Kasich says he will veto.
  • The House’s health committee is considering legislation that
    would punish abortion providers and patients with life in prison,
    and even the death penalty.
  • A litigator with the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project told
    INSIDER the six-week ban is “Blanton unconstitutional,” and will
    likely be struck down in court. 

On Thursday, the Ohio House of Representatives passed a bill to
ban patients from obtaining abortions after six weeks. Republican
Governor John Kasich vetoed a similar measure in 2016 — and
reproductive rights advocates say it’s a clear attempt to get the
Supreme Court to rule on abortion restrictions.

Passed by a vote of 58-43 and now headed to the Ohio Senate,
the legislation would charge
doctors with felonies
if they preformed abortions after a
heartbeat could be detected, which typically occurs around five
or six weeks of pregnancy. 

Gov. Kasich, who leaves office in January, told reporters over
the weekend that he would veto the six-week ban
if it came to his desk before the end of his term.
Reproductive rights advocates argue the legislation would
criminalize abortion before many women even know they’re

Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU
Reproductive Freedom Project called the bill — and others like it
— “blatantly unconstitutional” in a phone interview with

“A state can’t ban abortion, which is what this has effectively
done, and it would be struck down by the courts, certainly in the
lower courts,” Amiri said. “This is a direct attack on Roe v.
Wade, this is an attempt by the other side to overrule the
constitutional right to abortion.” 

Meanwhile, the Ohio House’s health committee is considering an even more severe
abortion bill,
HB 565, which would go a step further to
designate fetuses as “unborn humans” statewide, allowing for
women and doctors who receive and provide abortions to be
punished with life in prison, and even the death penalty. 

That bill, however, has not gained much traction since lawmakers
introduced it in March, and is unlikely to be voted on this

Amiri explained the six-week ban is unlikely to hold up legally,
since Roe v. Wade protects abortion to the point of viability,
around 24 weeks of pregnancy. Similar six-week bans in North
Dakota and Iowa were either struck down by federal courts or
blocked by state courts for violating either Roe, or state-level
abortion protections. 

After Justice Brett Kavanaugh was nominated in July, legal experts told INSIDER
that while it’s unlikely for a Supreme Court even with a 5-4
conservative majority to fully overturn Roe v. Wade, the Court
could uphold less extreme restrictions on the procedure. 

Read more: 

23 creative ways states are
keeping women from getting abortions in the US — that could erode
Roe v. Wade without repealing it

“We don’t know what’s going to happen until the Supreme Court
takes one of these cases. There are 13 cases in the pipeline
right now. Whether the Supreme Court is going to take up one of
those cases and what they’re going to say is unknown, but we’re
deeply concerned.”

In a Thursday statement, Amiri warned that the Ohio legislature’s
recent actions are a “harbinger of things to come” when it comes
to states restricting abortion access. 

“We’re concerned this is the first of several states that will
try to ban abortion, which is why people need to stay vigilant,”
Amiri added. “I was a little surprised that Ohio was so quick to
do so, and it makes me deeply concerned that other states will be
acting quickly when the legislatures come back in session in 2019
in other states.”

Amiri said she has just one message for the Ohio state government
if they pass the six-week ban: “we’ll see you in court.” 

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