Ohio Republicans have reintroduced a controversial bill that would redefine in law the term “person” to include “any unborn human” and would make abortion a potentially criminal offense.
The bill, House Bill 565, was first introduced in March, but is being brought up again after Ohio House Republicans successfully passed their “heartbeat bill” earlier this month and enjoyed a successful midterm election.
The bill defines “abortion” as the “purposeful termination of a human pregnancy by any person, including the pregnant woman, with the intention of causing the death of an unborn human, by any method, including, but not limited to, chemical methods, medical methods, and surgical methods.”
Additionally, the bill clarifies that “unborn human” refers to “an individual organism of the species homo sapiens from fertilization until live birth.”
Under the bill, both women who seek abortions and doctors who provide them could face criminal charges for murder, potentially resulting in a prison sentence or possibly even the death penalty. As it’s currently written, the bill doesn’t make any exceptions for extreme cases, such as rape, incest, or threats to the life of the mother.
“I believe life begins at conception so the goal of this bill is to, first of all, continue to get the word out that life does begin at conception and move the debate in that direction and to protect unborn Ohioans from being aborted,” State Rep. Ron Hood (R-Ashville) (pictured, left) said when the bill was first introduced.
Hood and Rep. Nino Vitale (R-Cleveland) (pictured, right) are co-sponsors of the bill, which is currently being considered by the Republican-leaning House Health Committee, according to CleveScene. After the passage of the heartbeat bill, which Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) has promised to veto, Hood called the pieces of legislation the “vehicle that is needed to revisit Roe v. Wade.”
“The House passage of the bill is a critical step in that long-awaited process,” he said in reference to the passage of the heartbeat bill, which, as its name suggests, prevents abortions after a heartbeat is detectable in the unborn life.
Pro-choice advocates in the state are sure to protest the bill, as they have done with previous pro-life legislation.
“Anti-abortion ideologues should not attempt to insert politics between a patient and their physician,” NARAL Ohio Pro-Choice Executive Director Kellie Copeland said in a statement after the heartbeat bill passed.
“What we’re seeing is state legislators, John Kasich, and Mike DeWine playing politics with women’s lives. This abortion ban would block patients from the care they need and deserve,” she continued, saying the “decision to have an abortion is not a political decision.”
Incoming Gov-elect Mike DeWine (R-OH) has indicated that he would sign the heartbeat bill if given the opportunity, but it’s unclear where he stands on House Bill 565.
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