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Brent: Near-total abortion ban threatens women's health, liberty

Most extreme abortion ban in the nation clears Ohio House
April 10, 2019
Juanita O. Brent News

House Democrats today voted against Senate Bill (SB) 23, a GOP-backed near-total abortion ban that would prohibit abortions in Ohio long before most women know they are pregnant. SB 23 would become the most extreme abortion ban in the country if signed into law.

“Ohio’s promise is to ensure everyone has access to healthcare. SB 23 tells Ohioans that healthcare is not a priority at the Ohio Statehouse,” said Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland). “As legislators, we should make policy people will fight for, not against. I stand against this complete ban on abortion.”

SB 23 makes no exceptions for rape or incest, and provides limited exceptions for the life and health of the mother. A last-minute markup eliminated protections for women from forced vaginal ultrasounds and removed language that held the health of women as a legitimate interest of the state. 

Democrats offered a number of amendments on the House floor, including:

  • Exception for women who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest
  • Exemption for African-American women, whose history includes rape and forced birth imposed on enslaved women and black women after slavery.
  • Establish 12-week paid parental leave and require reasonable pregnancy accommodations in the workplace
  • Require men, as women are required under SB 23, to use their bodies at the direction of the state for medical purposes, including blood, bone marrow, tissue and organ donation.
  • Exception for women whose constitutional right to liberty found in the 5th and 14th Amendments is infringed by restrictions in the bill, and prohibit public money from defending the bill from legal challenges.
  • Eliminate Rape Statute of Limitations and eliminate spousal rape exception from Ohio law.
  • Require coverage for mothers for five years and for children through age 18, and to appropriate funds for Medicaid coverage of additional forced births.

Republicans rejected the amendments along party lines without debate.

After passing the House, the bill moves to the Senate for concurrence on House changes before heading to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.