GOP Revives Anti-Abortion Bill HB 239 UPDATED
Once again signaling their determination to push divisive partisan legislation during the lameduck session, Republican legislators revived an extreme anti-abortion law and voted it out of committee today. The bill, HB 239, has been essentially dormant since it was introduced by Rep. Michelle Schneider (R) in May.
The proposed law declares that "it is the public policy of the state to prefer childbirth over abortion to the extent that is constitutionally permissible." It expands the current prohibitions against the use of state funds and facilities for "non-therapeutic abortions" or for insurance coverage for same, and against public employees performing "non-therapeutic abortions," by redefining that term to include pregnancies resulting from rape or incest or that threaten the mental or physical health of the mother. In other words, only when pregnancy endangers the woman's life would the abortion be deemed "therapeutic." (The only exception is that state funds can be used for certain abortions resulting from rape or incest if federal funds pay for part of the abortion and the federal funds otherwise would not be available, and even then restrictions apply.) The ban is also expanded by applying it to a wider range of political subdivisions.
In short, the bill is a blunt assault on choice and women's health. As NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio wrote when the bill was introduced last spring, "this politically-motivated and dangerous bill would make it more difficult for Ohio women to obtain safe and legal abortion care. This legislation is full of rhetoric, but does nothing to prevent unintended pregnancies or to promote healthy pregnancies."
UPDATE: Stories in the Dayton Daily News and Columbus Dispatch refer to additional provisions not in the existing bill summary, including a provision that would give anti-abortion groups the right to go to court if they believe abortion clinics are unlicensed or not following their license requirements. Rep. John White (R-Kettering) confirms that the GOP is trying to rush the bill into law in order to avoid a veto by Governor-elect Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon).