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Ohio poised to take lead in push to crack down on abortions

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Posted at 6:03 PM, Mar 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-22 18:07:22-04

CLEVELAND — The Buckeye State is positioning itself to take the lead nationally in the push to crack down on abortions.

Friday, Planned Parenthood was put on notice. The Ohio Department of Health announced it's ending certain streams of taxpayer funding for the organization in 30 days.

It's the latest in a string of moves the state continues to make as it weighs-in on when a woman can end her pregnancy and how it's done.

"We're getting to the point that Ohio has passed virtually every kind of restriction on abortion that you can imagine," Jessie Hill of Case Western Reserve University said.

From a heartbeat bill that cleared the Ohio Senate and is currently in the House, to trying to ban a widely used abortion technique, state lawmakers appear to be preparing for a much larger debate when it comes to life.

"Ohio knows it's unconstitutional. They are just trying to get up to the U.S. Supreme Court," Hill said.

Hill, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University, is a national expert on reproductive rights law.

"I think the politicians pushing these restrictions want Ohio to be the state that brings their case before the Supreme Court to get Roe v. Wade overturned," Hill said.

However, Hill said it might not be what the people they represent want.

"Right now, our legislative districts at the state level are very gerrymandered, and so the Ohio General Assembly is more conservative on a lot of issues, including abortion, than the population of Ohio as a whole," Hill said.

Hill explained why there's been a flurry of controversial cases surfacing lately.

"Now is a good time because the courts are friendly and are getting friendlier to their views," Hill said.

President Trump is also making moves to help ensure restrictions on abortions stick.

"He's responsible for about a third of the judges out there right now at the federal level. The proponents of this legislation are starting to see that their chances of getting upheld are better," said Hill.

As the pieces of this puzzle come together, what will it mean for the future of abortions in our state?

"Ultimately these restrictions just chip away at access, they result a lot of times in clinics closing, not being able to continue to operate. It's likely to have a real impact on abortion in Ohio," Hill said.

While no one knows for sure, Hill expects the Supreme Court to revisit Roe v. Wade in the coming years if not sooner. He said Ohio is clearly leading the charge to help make that happen.