Ohio Right to Life announced Tuesday that it is pushing for a ban on all abortions after 20 weeks gestation — a controversial move that could bring a direct challenge to the 1973 Roe v Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The group expects a bill to be introduced soon in the Ohio House that mirrors legislation pushed across the country by the National Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List. Thirteen states have already adopted the 20-week ban and it has been upheld in federal courts in Georgia and Arizona. Anti-abortion activists maintain that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks gestation.
But Republican leaders in the U.S. House abruptly dropped plans last week to push the group’s federal legislation to ban abortions after 20 weeks when some Republican women and Democrats in Congress balked at the bill.
The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that women have a constitutional right to privacy when it comes to terminating a pregnancy up until the point of fetal viability. Right to Life’s “pain capable” bills challenge those viability limits, which are commonly set at 24 weeks gestation.
“Our Pain-Capable legislation will alter the abortion debate in Ohio” said Stephanie Ranade Krider, executive director of Ohio Right to Life. “An overwhelming majority of Americans, especially women, support protecting pre-born babies from scalpels and dismemberment. This is priority legislation for Ohio Right to Life and once again, the nation is watching.”
Abortion rates in Ohio and across the nation have declined over the past 20 years. In the past several years, Ohio has instituted more restrictions on women seeking abortions. The number of abortions performed at 21 or more weeks into a pregnancy is relatively low — 173 out of 23,216 abortions in 2013, according to the Ohio Department of Health’s annual report.
In 2011, Ohio instituted a ban on abortions after 24 weeks gestation. Kellie Copeland of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio said Kasich is poised to “insert his political interference even earlier in a pregnancy.”
“Sadly, some pregnancies don’t go as planned, resulting in devastating complications. In those cases women should be able to consult with their doctors and make the best decision for their family,” she said.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio and Ohio Right to Life agree that the bill would be a direct challenge to the framework established by Roe v. Wade.
A poll released in November by Quinnipiac University found 60 percent of American voters support a ban on abortions after 20 weeks while 33 percent oppose such a measure.
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