On November 20th, a Republican-majority committee on Health and Aging voted to pass House Bill 248 along to the Ohio state legislature. The bill, if it becomes law, would severely restrict access to legal abortions in Ohio. But, unless you already know what Ohio abortion accessibility is like now, that might be difficult to contextualize. Here’s a comparison of what abortion laws are in place now, and what they would look like if the bill passes.
- 24-Hour Informed Consent: A patient seeking abortion must receive state-directed counseling with information including the probable gestational age of the fetus, the medical risks of an abortion and a comparison of the risks of abortion against the risk of full-term pregnancy, after which she must wait 24 hours before having the procedure
- Minors seeking abortion must have parental consent and accompaniment
- After 20 weeks, an abortion can only be performed if the fetus is proven to be unviable. If the fetus is viable at 20 weeks, it is illegal to perform an abortion.
- Abortion provider must test for a heartbeat, and inform the patient.
With House Bill 248
- Abortion would be illegal if the fetus had a detectable heartbeat, which can be as early as 6 weeks into the pregnancy.
- Doctors who performed abortions after the presence of a detectable heartbeat would face felony charges.
- No exception would be made for instances of incest or rape.
Similar bills have been passed and overturned in Arkansas and North Dakota as unconstitutional, but if the bill passes in Ohio, it stands to drastically cut access to legal abortions, which are not all that accessible now. According to the Guttmacher Institute, as of 2011, 91% of Ohio counties, representing 54% of the women in Ohio, did not have abortion clinics. Nationally, 69% of women seeking an abortion are economically disadvantaged, which suggests that further restrictions in Ohio may also disproportionately affect the health of lower-class women who cannot afford to travel out of state for an abortion.