Two anti-abortion bills in the Ohio Senate have cleared the Health Committee, making way for closer restrictions on abortion pill reverse treatment and rights of abortion survivors. Both could get a vote by the full Senate as early as Wednesday.
Senate Bill 155 would require physicians to give patients a link to information about “abortion pill reverse treatment” for a chemical abortion. Lawmakers are split on the science behind the bill, introduced in May 2019 and sponsored by state Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering.
The bill, voted 8-4 onto the floor, will enforce greater awareness of the process behind a chemical abortion by the woman considering it, if passed. It will provide her with “information on and assistance with the resources that may be available to help reverse the effects of an abortion that utilizes mifepristone.”
The chemical abortion normally takes two steps, using two drugs over the course of a few days. Mifepristone is a progesterone blocker, preventing the hormone that helps a woman get and stay pregnant. The second pill contains misoprostol, which makes the uterus contract. This completes the process.
Taking progesterone between the two purportedly gives the woman a 50/50 chance of carrying out the pregnancy, reports the Dayton Daily News, a process the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology deems “unproven and unethical” – this from an organization that declares abortion to be and “essential component of health care.”
Lehner emphasized, “We are not forcing anyone to take the abortion pill reversal treatment — we simply want to give women more information on another option available to them.”
The second bill, Senate Bill 208, mandates “a completed child survival form submitted to the department of health under section 3701.792 of the Revised Code,” according to the document.
Not only will health care providers be required to administer medical care to a child who survives an attempted abortion, but the woman “may file a civil action for the wrongful death of the woman’s child against a person who violates division (A) of this section,” and perhaps most importantly, doctors will also be required to report instances of attempted abortions which result in live birth to the department of health.
208 is sponsored by Sen. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott, co-sponsored by 11 other senators, including Lehner.
The two connected bills are highly contested because some lawmakers say failure to provide medical care is already a felony. However, given that the care is directed at infants, whose viability for the right to live before exiting the womb is in question, lawmakers who oppose abortion argue that infants’ rights must be made doubly clear outside the womb.
Abortion is currently prohibited after 20 weeks of gestation in the state of Ohio. However unlikely it is for an abortion to fail, it is still possible; if, for example, the number of weeks is miscalculated and the abortion is attempted after 20 weeks, the infant could possibly survive the attempt.
Mandated documentation of live births (following the attempt of an abortion) will provide the department of health with accurate records of the state of abortion attempts. This will keep them in the records rather than under the radar. Such records can be utilized to analyze the numbers of attempted abortions and might carry weight in future cases against their legality if the number is high enough.
Another deterrent is the increased penalties for doctors who don’t provide care for an infant born during an abortion procedure. Penalties could increase to a felony with up to 18 months in prison for a repeated offense.
Ohio has yet to see the full effect of the “heartbeat” bill from April 2019 and its relationship to these bills, however. After Gov. Mike DeWine passed a law banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected on April 11, the ACLU of Ohio and Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit against it, questioning its constitutionality. Called “one of the most stringent abortion restrictions in the nation” by the news and “the next incremental step in our strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade” by Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis, many of its ripple effects on law have yet to be seen.
Ohio is one of four states to pass such a law this year, and 10 others are considering a similar law. Significant backlash poured out after the bill, and those opposing it are the same as those opposing this week’s Senate bills. “This is a ban on almost all abortions, and if the court does not block it, it will imperil the freedoms and health of Ohio women,” said Freda Levenson, Legal Director of the ACLU of Ohio, in a written statement.
Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said, “We’ve seen state legislatures around the country taking drastic, unconstitutional steps to insert themselves into personal, private health care decisions that should be between a woman and her doctor.”
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Allegra Thatcher is a reporter at The Ohio Star.
Background Photo “Ohio State Senate Chamber” by Antony-22. CC BY-SA 4.0.