Ohio Legislature Sends Late-Term Abortion Ban to Gov. Kasich

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 13, 2011   |   3:28PM   |   Columbus, OH

The Ohio legislature today signed off on a bill banning late-term abortions in the Buckeye State and now it heads to pro-life Gov. John Kasich for his signature.  H.B. 78, the Late-Term Abortion Ban, passed by a 64 to 32 vote in the House late last month and the Senate approved it today.

The Senate moved the bill through the Senate Health, Human Services and Aging Committee and out of the Senate today and this life-saving legislation now heads to the governor.

“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 has lobbied for the bill, saying it is strong pro-life legislation that will protect women, save babies’ lives and is part of an overall national strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“The efficiency of this pro-life victory would not have been possible without the strong leadership of Senate President Tom Niehaus, Senator Scott Oelslager and Senator Peggy Lehner,” OHRTL director Mike Gonidakis said. “The pro-life members of the Senate demonstrated overwhelming support and their actions today will save countless lives in Ohio. We are proud to add the great state of Ohio to the growing list of states who have partnered in this strategic legislative approach.”

This legislation will ban post-viability abortions except when the pregnant woman’s life is in danger. In Ohio, a woman can legally have an abortion up to and through her ninth month of pregnancy. With the passage of H.B. 78 and the ultimate signature by Kasich, babies who can live outside of their mother’s womb will no longer be subject to death via an abortion.

“The abortion industry and their lobbyists will lament the passage of this compassionate legislation, claiming it is an attack women’s reproductive rights,” Gonidakis said. “To the contrary, women deserve respect and deserve to be empowered as mothers.”

He continued, “”When women suffer from complications in pregnancy, they should receive treatment.  With today’s technology, that does not have to come at the expense of their unborn child.  When women suffer from mental illness, they should be treated for the disease that afflicts them – pregnancy is not the disease.  Women’s health can be protected while their child, capable of living on its own outside the womb, is equally protected.”

“H.B. 78, sponsored by Rep. Joe Uecker (R -Loveland) and Rep. Kristina Roegner (R-Cuyahoga Falls) will save countless lives every year in the state of Ohio and will be the most important piece of pro-life legislation Ohio has passed in years,” the Ohio pro-life advocate concluded.

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.

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.