The bill now heads to the state House (Palmer, Reuters, 6/24).
Under a 2011 law (HB 78), Ohio bans abortions at 24 weeks and requires physicians to perform tests to determine if a fetus is viable beginning at 20 weeks. The law states that a physician cannot perform an abortion between 20 weeks and 24 weeks unless a woman's life is at risk or the physician has determined that the fetus cannot survive outside the womb. A fetus typically is not considered viable until about 24 weeks.
The 20-week legislation is based on the unfounded notion that a fetus can feel pain at that point of development. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said that there is no legitimate scientific evidence showing that fetuses are capable of feeling pain at 20 weeks.
Under the proposed law, physicians could face felony changes and potentially lose their medical licenses if they perform an abortion at 20 weeks or after, except when the procedure is needed to save a woman's life (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/28).
Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said, "The 20-week abortion ban sacrifices the health and reproductive rights of women at their most vulnerable moment: most women targeted by this bill are suffering from medical complications with a wanted pregnancy" (Reuters, 6/24).
According to AP/WKBN, a number of religious leaders during testimony on the measure also voiced opposition to the bill. George Glazier, an Episcopal minister who spoke on behalf of the Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, said, "How does this 20-week ban enhance the physical or mental health of women in the state of Ohio? It doesn't" (AP/WKBN, 6/24).
Compromise Budget Includes TRAP Provision
In related news, a joint negotiating panel of state lawmakers on Thursday voted 4-2 to pass a budget proposal that includes a new restriction on abortion clinics, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.
According to the Chronicle, the two-year, $71 billion budget proposal could be considered by the state Senate on Thursday and by the state House on Friday. Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) must sign a finalized budget by June 30.
Abortion Provision Could Close Toledo Clinic
State lawmakers in approving the compromise budget added back in a provision that would require abortion clinics to arrange a patient transfer agreement with a hospital no more than 30 miles away. According to the Chronicle, the provision could affect an abortion clinic in Toledo, Capital Care Network, because it has an agreement with a hospital 50 miles away (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 6/25).
The state Senate had dropped the provision last week before approving its version of the budget.
Meanwhile, also last week, an Ohio judge cited the state Senate's inclusion of the provision in his decision overturning a 2014 Ohio Department of Health order that would have closed Capital Care Network. Common Pleas Judge Myron Duhart said the order was unconstitutional because the state overreached its regulatory authority, but he also noted that the state Senate would have violated Ohio's single-subject rule by trying to regulate the issue in the proposed budget (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/22).