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New anti-abortion bills introduced in Ohio legislature

Jo Ingles/Ohio Public Radio

Some new bills at the Statehouse would make abortion illegal at earlier stages of pregnancy than the existing law, which bans abortion after around 24 weeks.

And one would also take more money away from Planned Parenthood.

Ohio Right to Life is backing six bills that the group says would reduce the number of abortions in Ohio.  One of those is legislation that would make abortion illegal at 20 weeks into a pregnancy. Republican Representative Kristina Roegner will sponsor that bill in the Ohio House.

“It’s also, I find, very sad to note that the United States is one of only seven countries in the world that allow abortion after 20 weeks of gestation, including North Korea and China,” Roegner said. "In fact, in 2013 alone here in Ohio, there were over 300 abortions after 19 weeks of gestation.  It’s time to end this atrocity.”

Another bill being introduced would end the practice of using drugs off label to induce abortions.  Another would provide state funding for so-called crisis pregnancy centers throughout the state, which are often operated by faith-based groups.  And yet another would prevent abortions from being performed on a fetus if a medical test on the pregnant woman has determined that child would be born with Down\’s syndrome. 

Stephanie Krider with Ohio Right to Life says the last initiative her group supports would take state dollars for an infant mortality prevention program away from Planned Parenthood.

“It’s not just ironic that the country’s largest abortion provider is receiving funding to prevent infant mortality,” Krider said. “It’s actually very disturbing.”

If that bill passes, it wouldn’t be the first time the Ohio legislature has taken government money away from Planned Parenthood.  Lawmakers recently redirected federal dollars meant for family planning away from Planned Parenthood and gave it to other community clinics instead. 

Gabriel Mann with Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio says the plan to take money away from his group and give those dollars to crisis pregnancy centers would be bad for Ohio’s women because those centers often do not provide a full range of contraceptive options.

“Contraception is critical to helping women plan their pregnancies and reducing the infant mortality rate in the state of Ohio,” Mann said.

Jaime Miracle of NARAL ProChoice Ohio says the lawmakers supporting these bills should be focusing on the economy and other issues that are more important to Ohioans.

“I’m disappointed,” Miracle said.  “I think that there are so many things that we could do to make Ohio better and to support families in Ohio that Ohio Right to Life, NARAL, Pro Choice Ohio and everybody could get behind and really make a difference for the people of Ohio.  These six legislative things that they have laid out today do none of that.”

Miracle says she thinks the 20 week ban bill would be taken to the Supreme Court because it does not allow exceptions for rape, incest and other conditions that are commonly included in similar bills that have been passed throughout the country. 

Ohio Right to Life has not supported the so-called "Heartbeat Bill” which would eliminate abortion at the point a fetal heartbeat can be detected. That legislation has failed in the past two general assemblies but backers of it have said that they have talked with lawmakers who will introduce it again soon.