October 1, 2015 — A group of Ohio lawmakers on Wednesday announced a series of legislation aimed at reversing several antiabortion-rights measures and expanding abortion access in the state, Northeast Ohio Media Group/Cleveland Plain Dealer reports (Borchardt, Northeast Ohio Media Group/Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/1).
Conservative lawmakers in the Ohio Legislature over the last four years have pushed a series of restrictions that have incrementally restricted abortion facilities. Since Gov. John Kasich (R) took office in 2011, he has signed into law 16 antiabortion-rights measures.
For example, under Ohio's 2014-2015 budget (HB 59), abortion clinics in the state are required to have a patient transfer agreement with a hospital. Clinics are prohibited from making such arrangements with public hospitals. More recently, Kasich also signed into law a state budget (HB 64) that requires abortion clinics to arrange a patient transfer agreement with a hospital no more than 30 miles away (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/10).
State lawmakers also are considering additional antiabortion-rights measures, including a 20-week abortion ban, a measure (HB 135) prohibiting abortion if sought because of a fetal diagnosis of Down Syndrome and legislation that would cut $1 million in public funding for Planned Parenthood.
Proposed Abortion-Rights Legislation
Lawmakers will introduce six bills aimed at expanding abortion rights.
The bills would eliminate several antiabortion-rights measures, including the transfer agreement requirement for abortion clinics, a 24-hour mandatory delay before an abortion, the ban on public funding for abortion, and the prohibition on coverage for abortion care for public employees and state residents enrolled in a plan purchased on the federal health insurance marketplace (Siegel, Columbus Dispatch, 10/1).
In addition, one bill would mandate that crisis pregnancy centers that receive federal funding give patients "medically accurate" information, while another would help protect clinic staff and patients from antiabortion-rights protesters.
It is unlikely that the bills will advance in the conservative state Legislature. However, state Rep. Greta Johnson (D) said she drafted the legislation to represent women in Ohio who support abortion rights, noting, "I was elected and I swore to do a job and part of that job is to introduce legislation that moves Ohio forward" (Northeast Ohio Media Group/Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/1).
Johnson said, "We will push back against [conservative]-led unconstitutional restrictions and introduce legislation that reflects the majority of Ohioans" (Columbus Dispatch, 10/1). She added, "[W]e are carrying the message we will not tolerate further infringement of a constitutionally protected right to abortion care" (Northeast Ohio Media Group/Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/1).
Meanwhile, state Rep. Stephanie Howse (D) said, "We need to tell legislators to stay out of family matters, personal decisions, and get back to the real work of ... helping Ohioans get back to work, properly educating our children and properly supporting families" (Columbus Dispatch, 10/1).