Ohio House Committee Signs Off on Late-Term Abortion Ban

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 17, 2011   |   1:24PM   |   Columbus, OH

Wednesday afternoon, Ohio legislators on the Ohio House Health and Aging Committee approved a bill pro-life advocates support that would ban late-term abortions.  H.B. 78, the Late-Term Abortion Ban, was voted out of the panel and heads to the House floor.

The bill passed with bipartisan support out of the committee, with lawmakers defeating attempts to include pro-abortion amendments along the way. Both sponsors and proponents of its companion bill, S.B. 72, also gave compelling testimony yesterday in the Senate Health Committee.

“We are trying to make sure that no child dies from a brutal and painful death through a late-term abortion, and that and no woman has to confront the trauma and medical problems they cause,” said Mike Gonidakis, Executive Director at Ohio Right to Life.

The Late-Term Abortion Ban would require physicians to test the viability of an unborn child if the mother were seeking an abortion at 20 weeks or later into her pregnancy.  If the child is found to be able to live outside the mother’s womb, the abortion cannot be performed, except in circumstances where the pregnancy is a threat to the mother’s health. The measure also contains language making it clear a mental health exception can’t be used to get around the ban — especially since a substantial amount of research shows abortions pose mental health risks for women.

Gonidakis said this is one of the first major efforts to limit late-term abortions in Ohio following a 1997 decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to strike down the state’s previous ban. He believes the 2007 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding a federal partial-birth abortion ban gives the state legal leverage to push for banning late-term abortions.

“There have been a lot of court cases that have come down the pike, and we believe the climate is right now both judicially and legislatively to put this forward,” he said.

Ohio is home to Martin Haskell, one of the main promoters of the partial-birth abortion method 38 states and Congress have banned and he continues to do abortions late in pregnancy using other procedures at his Cincinnati-area abortion business. Gonidakis estimates the late-term abortion ban could prevent as many as 700 abortions annually in Ohio.

“A lot of people think abortion is something that happens in the first couple days – you pop a pill and everything’s over. It’s not,” he said.

H.B. 78,  sponsored by Rep. Joe Uecker (R -Loveland) and Rep. Kristina Roegner (R-Cuyahoga Falls) and S.B. 72, sponsored by Senator Peggy Lehner (R – Dayton) and 16 additional co-sponsors, would, according to Gonidakis “save countless lives every year in the state of Ohio, and would be the most important piece of pro-life legislation Ohio has passed in years.”

Ohio Right to Life expressed its gratitude to Chairman Lynn Wachtmann (R- Napoleon) and the members of the Health and Aging Committee and to Senator Peggy Lehner and those who offered testimony to ensure these pro-life advancements.

“This legislation marks a new day in the future of Ohio, and we hope H.B. 78 will move to the House Floor soon,’ Gonidakis said.

Abortions have gone down in Ohio, with the state health department reporting 28,721 in 2009, down three percent from the 2008 abortion total and the ninth straight year of decline. Since 2000, abortions are down 40 percent in the state.