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A Rundown On The Status Of Pending Abortion Bills In The Legislature

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Ohio's Republican-controlled legislature continues to consider several bills aimed at banning abortions or stripping money from organizations that provide them. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports.

A state Senate Committee has heard testimony for and against a bill that would strip Planned Parenthood of government funding. Lawmakers and others who back the bill say government money that currently goes to reimburse Planned Parenthood for health care services such as STD/HIV testing, cancer screenings and gynecological exams should no longer go there because the organization provides abortions.  But Mike Gonadakis with Ohio Right to Life says that’s not the only abortion related bill his group is pushing.  
 
“It’s a very busy fall for the Ohio General Assembly and Ohio Right to Life and the pro-life movement because we do have multiple bills currently in the general assembly in different stages and we expect to get some, hopefully all, to the Governor’s desk by the end of the calendar year or shortly thereafter.”  
 
In addition to the defunding Planned Parenthood bill, Gonadakis says there are a half dozen bills total his group is backing right now. One would prevent a pregnant woman from getting an abortion after learning a fetus could suffer from Down syndrome. Another would ban abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy, at the point it is believed that a fetus could feel pain. Other bills would end the practice of using drugs off-label to induce abortions and prevent the use of telemedicine for the purpose of providing abortion-causing drugs. Gonadakis says his group is trying to find ways to incrementally reduce abortions.  
 
“You know abortions are at a historic low in Ohio as evidenced by the Ohio Abortion Report. That’s a good thing. We have fewer unsafe abortion clinics in the state of Ohio. That’s a good thing. So what we are trying to do is while we know we can’t pass legislation to ban abortion at the moment of conception because of Roe – v- Wade, we are looking for ways to incrementally reduce abortion. Even Hillary Clinton says that abortion should be rare so we are just helping her get there to that point.”  
 
But Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton has made it clear on the campaign trail that she supports Planned Parenthood and legal abortion.  And Jamie Miracle with NARAL Pro Choice Ohio says state lawmakers are going too far.  
 
“Whether these legislators or groups like it or not, abortion is part of health care. And by saying we are going to defund contraception, breast cancer screenings, HIV testing, infant mortality programs, just because they want to score political points with their base against abortion is not how we should be doing policy in the state of Ohio.”  
 
Miracle points out other states that have passed legislation that is similar to ones being considered in the legislature have found those laws overturned by courts. She says the most recent example was earlier this week when a federal court ruled two southwest Ohio abortion clinics that were set to close because they didn’t have transfer agreements with local hospitals, as required in a new state law, could stay open while the clinics appeal the court case against that legislation.  
 
“We’re seeing the Ohio legislature continue to push bill after bill after bill and we are seeing the courts say, no, you’ve gone too far. Our legislators need to listen to the courts and focus on things that actually help the people in the state of Ohio rather than restrict access to health care.”  
 
There are some proposed abortion bills that are not gaining traction with this General Assembly. The legislation known as the “Heartbeat Bill”, which would ban abortions at the point a fetal heartbeat can be detected. That legislation is stalled in committee in both the Ohio House and Senate. And legislators have not embraced a so-called “Personhood amendment” that would make abortion completely illegal by declaring life begins at conception and giving legal rights to fertilized eggs. So the anti-abortion group backing that proposal is trying to collect and submit the more than 300,000 signatures from Ohio voters to put the Amendment on the statewide ballot for a vote in the future.  
 

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