Ohio Senate OKs Late-Term Abortion Ban Pro-Life Group Backs

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 6, 2011   |   5:33PM   |   Columbus, OH

The Ohio Senate has approved a bill pro-life advocates support that would ban late-term abortions. The Ohio Right to Life supported bill passed today by a 24 to 8 vote with overwhelming bipartisan support.

“Soon, abortionists will no longer be able to perform these brutal late-term abortions when the child can feel pain,” said Mike Gonidakis, the organization’s executive director told LifeNews.com. “That will be a true victory for human rights. 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.”

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.

S.B. 72,  sponsored by Senator Peggy Lehner, a Dayton Republican and 15 additional co-sponsors, would 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.

“Abortions can currently be performed in Ohio up to the moment of birth, but many doctors agree that a child can live outside the womb after just 22-24 weeks,” Senator Peggy Lehner said.  “This bill will prevent late-term abortions…and help better protect our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.”

Ohio Right to Life expects S.B. 72 to move to the House of Representatives soon, where the Ohio House Health and Aging Committee approved a companion version of the bill in March. H.B. 78 is sponsored by Rep. Joe Uecker (R -Loveland) and Rep. Kristina Roegner (R-Cuyahoga Falls).

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.

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.