By Darrel Rowland | 15 November 2019
The Columbus Dispatch
Anyone performing an abortion in Ohio would be subject to the death penalty under a new ban on the procedure proposed by anti-abortion groups and more than 20 Republican legislators.
Except for a very narrow exception when the life of the woman is in danger, abortions would constitute aggravated murder under House Bill 413. Offenders “shall suffer death or be imprisoned for life,” the Ohio Revised Code says.
Margie Christie, president of the Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio and executive director of Dayton Right to Life, was asked whether abortionists should face the death penalty.
“Based on circumstance — would leave that up to a courts and/or jury,” she replied via email.
Christie leads a coalition of anti-abortion activists across the state who contend that Ohio Right to Life has not pushed hard enough for sweeping “pro-life” legislation.
One of the bill’s main sponsors, Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, said in a statement, “The time for regulating evil and compromise is over. The time has come to abolish abortion in its entirety and recognize that each individual has the inviolable and inalienable right to life.”
Her bill would legally recognize an unborn human as a person.
“Any provider performing an abortion by any method, including but not limited to medical, surgical or chemical methods, will be subject to already existing murder statutes,” the lawmakers said in a press release.
The woman would not face charges. Exceptions for saving the life of the mother are limited — including a requirement to attempt to implant an ectopic pregnancy into the woman’s uterus. Critics say the procedure is not supported by science and puts the woman’s life at even greater risk.
The proposal drew strong condemnation from abortion rights supporters.
“Every abortion ban and medically dubious regulation shares the same goal as this bill — to outlaw abortion and strip Ohioans of their reproductive freedoms,” said NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland in a release.
“These politicians don’t care that these kinds of bans could also ban some contraceptives and fertility treatments. Ohioans won’t surrender their bodily autonomy to these extremists.”
House Democratic leader Emilia Sykes of Akron said, “This latest abortion ban from extreme, right-wing lawmakers is the most brazen and absurd attempt yet to deny Ohio women their fundamental freedoms, to interfere with the patient-doctor relationship and disproportionately target communities of color across Ohio.”
Previous versions of this bill have not received serious consideration in past sessions of the General Assembly. But this is the first such bill introduced since Ohio enacted the “heartbeat bill,” which bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually roughly six weeks into pregnancy.
That law and other abortion restrictions enacted in recent years have been delayed by federal judges who deem them unconstitutional.
Christie expressed optimism that this version will eventually pass, saying, “The heartbeat bill really opened the floodgates.”
Senate President Larry Obhof hasn’t seen the bill but, spokesman John Fortney said, “President Obhof believes life begins at conception. The Senate is the most pro-life chamber in the country and has shown as much several times already this year.”
But Ohio Right to Life, whose support was critical for most of the earlier restrictions on abortion rights, will sit this one out.
“Ohio Right to Life will not be getting involved in the bill, though we share their ultimate goal of ending all abortion,” said Stephanie Ranade Krider, the organization’s vice president and executive director.
“We sympathize with those who feel frustrated by how long it’s taken even to get to this point — it was just two years ago that pain-capable babies became protected by the law in the womb,” she said. ”(The state group) has been working to defend life and end abortion for over 50 years, but we believe the heartbeat bill before the courts now is the best vehicle to overturn Roe, and we will be watching carefully as it progresses in the courts.”
The legislation was introduced Thursday. It declares a fetus a person and would subject doctors who terminate pregnancies to potential murder charges. https://t.co/pvYm7CLVS4
— WSYX ABC 6 (@wsyx6) November 15, 2019
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