Proposed Ohio Bill Would Make Abortions Punishable Crimes

Some legal scholars believe women that get abortions could be charged with murder under the legislation.

COLUMBUS, OH — While the debate swirls around another Ohio "Heartbeat" bill, which would ban abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, the Ohio House is considering an even more severe and extensive abortion bill. This time, patients that undergo an abortion, and the doctors that perform abortions, could possibly be punished with the death penalty.

Ohio House Bill 565 openly states it is designed for the "abolition of abortion in the state of Ohio and the protection of unborn humans." In equating a fetus unequivocally with an "unborn human" it opens the possibility that patients and doctors involved in abortions could be charged with murder. That carries sentences of life in prison or, possibly, the death penalty in Ohio.

Mary Ziegler, a professor at Florida State University's College of Law, told Newsweek that House Bill 565 would put severe penalties "on the table" for women that get abortions.

She told the publication that while HB 565 "doesn't actually say that women would get the death penalty," it does "treat abortion as homicide and pretty clearly includes women having abortions among people who could be punished for having abortions."

The legislation was introduced in March and taken to committee in June. It hasn't gained much traction.

The Ohio House did pass another Heartbeat Bill this month, which bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, or if a heartbeat can be detected in a fetus. That legislation passed Thursday and heads to the Ohio Senate for consideration.

Under the Heartbeat Bill, doctors could be charged with felonies for performing abortions after a heartbeat is detected, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

Term-limited Governor John Kasich has said he will again veto the Heartbeat Bill if it makes it to his desk. A similar piece of legislation was vetoed by Kasich in December 2016. It's not yet clear what Governor-elect Mike DeWine might do if presented with the bill.

“The point is: it’s time. It doesn’t matter if the governor is with us or against us," Rep. Christina Hagan, a Republican from Stark County, told the Enquirer. "Motherhood isn’t easy but it’s necessary."

With two pieces of legislation that seek to restrict abortions in Ohio working their way through Ohio's Congress, many are speculating that these bills are a Trojan Horse. They're not geared specifically to be enacted in Ohio, but to challenge the landmark Roe vs Wade decision in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Business Insider said there are currently 13 legal challenges to Roe vs Wade in the "pipeline" across the United States.

"We're concerned [Ohio] is the first of several states that will try to ban abortion, which is why people need to stay vigilant," Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project told Business Insider. "I was a little surprised that Ohio was so quick to do so, and it makes me deeply concerned that other states will be acting quickly when the legislatures come back in session in 2019 in other states."

The full text of the so-called Heartbeat bill can be found by clicking here.

The full text of Ohio House Bill 565 can be found by clicking here.

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Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images