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With Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Ohio poised to institute abortion ban

SCOTUS overturns Roe v Wade; what happens to Ohio?
Posted at 10:34 AM, Jun 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-14 14:34:03-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The U.S. Supreme Court has decided: abortion is no longer a constitutional right. Ohio will get to decide the fate of health care — most likely outlawing abortion completely or to about the six-week mark.

UPDATE: Ohio Attorney General Dave confirmed Friday evening that "The Heartbeat Bill is now the law."

READ MORE: Ohio AG says six-week abortion ban bill is law after filing motion to dissolve injunction

Below, you can read the rest of Morgan Trau's report, published before Ohio's "heartbeat bill" became law:

In a 6-3 decision, SCOTUS sided with the conservatives in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the sole abortion provider in Mississippi, who sued Thomas Dobbs, the state’s chief health officer. The clinic sued in 2020 after legislation passed that would prohibit abortions after 15 weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

What overturning Roe v Wade means for Ohio

This ruling overturns the 1973 landmark case Roe v Wade, in which SCOTUS sided that abortion is a right, and individuals have the liberty to choose to have an abortion.

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Gov. DeWine is a “pro-life” governor, he said, so abortion is on its way out. This isn’t new – the state has been trying to ban abortion for decades but continues to get blocked by the federal court.

As of right now, abortion is legal in Ohio until 20 weeks post-fertilization, approximately 22 weeks after the pregnant person’s last menstrual period. It is unlikely that this timeline will last through the summer.

The six-week abortion ban (often referred to as the “heartbeat bill” by conservatives) first hit the Ohio legislature in 2011. It didn’t pass then, but similar legislation surrounding abortion restrictions appeared and passed in the Republican supermajority state.

The fifth time an Ohio General Assembly saw the six-week bill was in 2019. DeWine signed the bill into law later that year, making abortion illegal after the fetus's “heartbeat” can be detected, which conservatives say is usually between five or six weeks into the pregnancy. This is before the majority of people know they are pregnant. A federal judge blocked this bill temporarily.

“I've had discussion with the attorney general,” DeWine said to News 5 Statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Thursday. “He would go into court immediately because we already have a law in place and that law has been held up, of course, by the federal courts.

“He would go in pursuant to the Supreme Court case and ask for that stay to be lifted,” he added. “So, that would be the immediate action.”

Shortly after Roe was overturned, Attorney General Dave Yost confirmed that he has filed a motion to dissolve the injunction.

The six-week bill, sponsored by state Sen. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson), does not have an exception for rape or incest. It also only applies only to intrauterine pregnancies. It only has two exceptions.

The ban allows for physicians to perform an abortion if the procedure is to prevent a someone’s death or bodily impairment, which is defined as any “medically diagnosed condition that so complicates the pregnancy of the woman as to directly or indirectly cause the substantial and reversible impairment of a major bodily function.” This includes pre-eclampsia, “inevitable” abortion and premature rupture of the membranes. It could also be diabetes or multiple sclerosis but it can’t be anything related to mental health.

To be able to perform the life-saving measure, a physician has to write that the procedure is necessary for the above reasons and must include the medical condition and the medical rationale for it. Also, the written documentation must be included in the pregnant person’s medical records and the doctor must have a copy of it for at least seven years.

The other exception is if there is no heartbeat.

The bill also requires a pregnant person to sign a form acknowledging that there is a heartbeat detected. The form would include statements that say “the unborn human individual has a fetal heartbeat,” and would include the statistical probability of bringing that “individual” to term.

The bill doesn’t prohibit contraception or birth control.

If someone violates the ban, they are guilty of a felony of the fifth degree.

A former pregnant person could file civil action for a wrongful death suit of their unborn child, and they could be awarded court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees if they win.

The legislation also creates the Joint Legislative Committee on Adoption Promotion and Support, which would be made up of three House members and three Senate members.

In addition, it allows the State Medical Board to take disciplinary action for failure to comply with the act’s requirements. It allows the board to assess penalties of up to $20,000 for each abortion ban violation.

The person who received the abortion would get criminal immunity and immunity from civil liability.

When asked if he thought or heard if the Legislature would come back during the summer to push more anti-abortion laws, he said he “didn’t know.”

There are numerous abortion laws still being heard.

The “Human Life Protection Act” has had three hearings. House Bill 598 was sponsored by state Rep. Jean Schmidt, a Republican from Loveland. This is a trigger ban, meaning if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, Ohio would ban abortion without exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the pregnant person.

This is the same bill that made national news after Schmidt said rape was an “opportunity” for a hypothetical 13-year-old girl who was raped by a relative.

The bill would prohibit a person from purposely causing an abortion by using a "substance" or an "instrument" or other means and prohibits any person from making, selling or advertising tools to cause an abortion.

It makes criminal abortion a felony in the fourth degree, makes "promoting" abortion a first-degree misdemeanor and makes abortion manslaughter a felony of the first degree.

It also creates the crime of abortion manslaughter, which is when a person takes the life of a child born from an attempted abortion who is alive when removed from the pregnant person's uterus.

If found guilty, someone could get a minimum of four to seven years and a maximum of 25 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000 for abortion manslaughter. There is also a minimum of one-half to two years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,500 for criminal abortion.

However, the bill does grant immunity from prosecution for abortion manslaughter, criminal abortion or promoting abortion to the person who attempted an abortion or succeeded in an abortion. This individual would also be able to sue for wrongful death for violation of crimes of abortion manslaughter, criminal abortion or promoting abortion.

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Another abortion bill, House Bill 378, would require the Ohio Department of Health to publish information and give copies of materials on an abortion reversal process at least 24 hours prior to the patient taking the abortion pill mifepristone.

The bill, sponsored by Republican state Reps. Sarah Fowler Arthur, from Ashtabula, and Kyle Koehler, from Springfield, is accused of promoting misinformation.

The abortion pill is an FDA-approved method that is safe and effective for those who are an early abortion up to 10 weeks in pregnancy, according to the FDA. There are two steps in the process. First, the individual seeking the abortion would take mifepristone. This medicine stops the pregnancy from growing, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The next medicine is misoprostol, which will expel the embryo.

The reversal process is a treatment that requires the individual to take repeated doses of progesterone, a drug that supporters say would counteract the abortion pill. This would occur after the first abortion medication, mifepristone.

A study was done by the University of California San Francisco Medical Center's Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) reported The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) does not support the use of progesterone to “stop” a medication abortion due to the lack of scientific evidence and the FDA has not evaluated the treatment.

Under the bill, physicians must give documents that say: “Recent developing research has indicated that mifepristone alone is not always effective in ending a pregnancy. It may be possible to avoid, cease, or even reverse the intended effects of an abortion utilizing mifepristone if the second pill has not been taken. Please consult with a health care professional immediately.”

The language of the bill refers to a medical abortion as "as an abortion that involves a regimen of taking mifepristone first, then one or more subsequent “dangerous drugs.” A “dangerous drug” is defined in continuing law to include prescription drugs." The abortion pill is FDA-approved.

The bill also creates the crime of failure to disclose the reversibility of a mifepristone abortion. Under the bill, physicians could receive a first-degree misdemeanor on a first offense. This could be up to 180 days of jail time and a maximum $1,000 fine. There would be a fourth-degree felony on each subsequent offense with a prison term ranging from six to 18 months and a maximum $5,000 fine. The crime does not apply if the physician believes that a medical emergency exists that prevents compliance with the bill.

This bill would also give individuals who had an abortion to file a civil action for the wrongful death of their unborn child if they believe they were not adequately informed. The person could get $10,000 in damages or an amount determined by a court. People who have received the abortion who are now suing are not guilty.

The other abortion bill is H.B. 480, which completely bans abortion, but goes a step further than Schmidt’s bill. Known as the “bounty hunter” bill, it allows for private civil action if suspected or accused of having an abortion.

Introduced by Republican state Reps. Jena Powell, from Arcanum, and Thomas Hall, from Madison Twp., it changes the legal definition of “person” to include “born or unborn human being at any stage of development."

The ban would be enforced exclusively through civil actions and prohibits any other enforcement from being taken or threatened by the state or law enforcement.

Accusers can earn $10,000 for each abortion reported, as well as having their legal fees paid off. This bill hasn’t had a hearing yet. 

Once again, as of this story’s publishing – abortion is legal up to 22 weeks in Ohio.

Follow WEWS statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.