After passing a bill through the House that would ban abortion at six weeks, Ohio Republicans are considering legislation that would ban abortion completely in the state and make the procedure punishable by life in prison or even the death penalty.
House Bill 565, sponsored by Ohio Sens. Rob Hood and Nino Vitale, allows for no exceptions for abortion in cases of rape, incest, or danger to a woman's life. Under the law, fetuses would be classified as "unborn humans," making abortion punishable under the Ohio criminal code. This means that a woman who receives an abortion and doctors who perform the procedure could face criminal penalties, ranging from a prison sentence to capital punishment.
Unfortunately, floating criminal punishment for abortion is not an obscure idea among conservatives: In April, Idaho State Sen. Bob Nonini suggested that "anyone who has an abortion should pay." And, before he was elected, President Donald Trump said "there has to be some form of punishment" for women who undergo the procedure.
WOSU notes that the bill is being considered by the Ohio House's health committee and that it is unlikely to be voted on this year. HB 565 is just the latest in a string of anti-choice bills drafted by Ohio Republicans. Republicans' "heartbeat" bill — which passed the House last week — was previously vetoed by Gov. John Kasich, who instead signed a 20-week ban into law.
"Ohio just took us one step closer to becoming a forced-birth nation," #VOTERPROCHOICE cofounder Heidi Sieck said in a statement to Refinery29 Monday. "Legislators in Ohio are banning abortion before women even know they're pregnant — and we must stand up and speak out against this dangerous bill." After Brett Kavanaugh's contentious confirmation, the Supreme Court now has a conservative majority, meaning it is possible for Roe v. Wade to be overturned.
Despite the assault on abortion from Republican legislatures, polls show most Americans are in favor of keeping Roe v. Wade. “This November, voters elected a record number of governors who will champion reproductive health care. People in states like Ohio that do not have this critical backstop face a heightened threat to abortion access," Dr. Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement to Refinery29. "We must fight harder than ever to protect every woman’s right to control her own body, life, and future. We know the majority of Americans want access to safe, legal abortion. It’s time that our elected representatives listen to us: patients do not want politicians in the exam room making our health decisions."
This story was originally published on November 19, 2018. It has since been updated.