Ohio Budget imposes new abortion restrictions, redefines basic biology

Just when we thought the Ohio budget couldn’t get any worse for Ohio women, it did.

Yesterday a conference committee met to announce they had added language [view amendment] to the state budget — borrowed from the controversial heartbeat bill — that requires a physician to inform women in writing of the presence of a fetal heartbeat and the statistical likelihood that her fetus could be carried to term. The Department of Health would draft rules for how a fetal heartbeat can be detected, but those rules may only require an external exam. Civil, disciplinary and criminal penalties are included for doctors who purposefully perform or induce an abortion on a woman without fully meeting the new requirements

The amendment also contains some concerning changes to the definitions of ‘fetus’ and ‘pregnancy.’  The bill now defines fetus as: “human offspring developing during pregnancy from the moment of conception and includes the embryonic stage of development,” and declares that pregnancy begins with fertilization.  Biological science defines pregnancy as begin at implantation in the uterine lining. Changing these definitions could have many unforeseen ramifications, including implications for many commonly-used forms of birth control.

Ohio Republicans want to completely redefine this.
Ohio Republicans want to completely redefine this.

All this occurred without testimony from medical professionals or an opportunity for input from the public. It joins many other provisions impacting women that are already in the budget.

HB 59 heads to the full House and Senate for floor votes on Thursday, and on to Governor Kasich’s for his signature, which must happen before July 1. Kasich has line-item veto authority to remove these provisions, and we hope he stands with both women and science to these major changes to Ohio law that have not been properly vetted and do not belong in budget legislation.

Download the full “informed consent” amendment to HB 59.