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Opponents Battle Over Effects Of Abortion Bans In Ohio

NY Daily News

Groups calling themselves pro-choice say recently passed state laws make it harder for women with difficult pregnancies to end them before they put the women’s lives in danger. 

Groups calling themselves pro-life say those claims are untrue. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports.

A woman who identifies herself only as “Abby” says the nightmare she lived through was made worse by Ohio’s new abortion laws. A few years ago, numerous tests showed her fetus had a genetic deformation that would not allow it to live outside the womb. And medical experts also told her continuing her pregnancy would eventually put her own life at great risk. So she went to a hospital where her doctor ended her troubled pregnancy.

“He agreed that a hysterotomy abortion - a C-section performed before the baby is viable – was an option,” Abby says. Her daughter Olivia May was born on March 26, 2009, weighing one pound, five ounces, “with beautiful red hair just like her big sister. We held her, cuddled her, kissed her hello at the same time we were saying our goodbyes. The next morning she was taken to the morgue and final arrangements were carried out.”

Abby says she is not able to have more children now. Kellie Copeland with NARAL Pro Choice Ohio says Abby would also not be able to do now what she did then to end the pregnancy.

“In Abby’s case, this was before Ohio banned public hospitals from providing that care,” Copeland says. “So that would mean that a woman in Abby’s situation now may not be able to get care at places like the Ohio State Medical Center with some of the top high risk OB/GYN’s.”

Copeland says new laws require a woman’s life to be in immediate danger. She says that means they must wait until serious complications like sepsis happen. And she says those procedures will likely no longer be covered on Medicaid and many insurance plans purchased through the affordable health care exchange. Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) says recently passed Republican-backed abortion laws signed into law by Gov. John Kasich are hurting Ohio’s women. “He may talk about being concerned about people in the shadows but his policies are designed to keep them there,” Clyde says.

But opponents of abortion say situations like the one Abby faced are very rare. Katie Franklin with Ohio Right to Life says state leaders are right to restrict abortion. And Kayla Atchison with Ohio Right to Life says, “I think that the people of Ohio have the right to decide what they want as far as abortion goes and whether abortion is acceptable in their state.” Atchison adds, “Here, in the legislature, many of the representatives as well as the Governor are representing the people of their districts. And overwhelmingly, the people of Ohio as well as nationwide, support our bans on late term abortions upwards to 60% so obviously, the women as well in Ohio are supportive of late term bans.”

There is one proposed ban that Ohio Right to Life doesn’t support, because it doesn’t think the legislation is constitutional. It is known as the “Heartbeat Bill” and would ban abortion at the point when a fetal heartbeat could be detected. That could be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy - often before women even realize they are pregnant. Backers of that plan have tried to pass it in the two previous General Assemblies. The “Heartbeat Bill” has been re-introduced but there haven’t been hearings on it yet.

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