The 130th Ohio General Assembly will be sworn into office in the coming days, with only 17 new House members and 2 new Senate members, we can look back to the 129th General Assembly for an idea of how women’s issues will fare in the 130th General Assembly. In the 129th General Assembly, a total of 15 anti-woman bills or resolutions were introduced and just over 60% received a vote in either the Senate or the House. Six of these unfavorable bills were enacted. This resulted in further restrictions on abortions and abortion coverage. A total of 26 bills or resolutions that were favorable towards women were introduced. However many of these bills never saw more than one hearing and only 15% of these bills were voted on. A bill was 4 times as likely to receive a hearing if it was unfavorable to women. Only three of the favorable bills were passed and two – SB 199 for Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day and SCR 15 Folic Acid Awareness Day – simply designated awareness days and made no major policy changes. Due to November’s election results – and the new gerrymandered House and Senate district maps, we can expect this same trend in the 130th General Assembly. The 129th General Assembly took on a few high profile fights as the house voted on and passed HB 125, the Heartbeat Bill, which would have left Ohio with the most restrictive abortion restrictions in the country. The Senate ultimately didn’t vote on this bill and it was not enacted. House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R) has said that there is no question that this bill will again be introduced in the 130th General Assembly. HB 298, which attempted to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, was introduced early in the House and revived following the 2012 election. Several hearings were held and the committee ultimately voted the bill out of committee, 11-9. The measure did not receive a vote on the house floor. This too could be revived in the next general assembly. The Kasich administration demonstrated support for most of the anti-woman bills and has no problem touting his pro-life credentials. Two of Kasich’s three consumer appointments to the Ohio Medical Board have been board members of Ohio Right to Life. Michael Gonidakis, the Executive Director of Ohio Right to Life, was Kasich’s most recent appointment to the Ohio State Medical Board. As Kasich moves into his second term and faces reelection, we expect him to make more extreme appointments to Ohio boards. Ohio Women’s Watch will continue to monitor legislation and policy decisions that impact women as we move into the 130th General Assembly and the Biennial Budget.
On November 6, two candidates for the United States Senate lost based in part on an extreme view that pregnancies from rape were “gifts from God,” not meriting an exception from the types of strict abortion bans they would like to see enacted. On the same day, 56 percent of Ohio voters told exit pollsters that they believed that abortion should be legal in “all or most” cases. Only 39 percent support laws banning abortion. There is clearly a mood among the electorate — nationally and in Ohio — that women should not be forced to carry a pregnancy to term after a rape. Even the minority of Ohioans who oppose legal abortion should support any measure that would prevent an unwanted pregnancy, thus eliminating the need for an abortion. Ohio legislators have an opportunity to make a difference. Four opportunities, actually. [Read more…]
Fresh off Tuesday’s election, the GOP majority in Ohio’s legislature returned to Columbus with a bang, indicating they will take up legislation in both Chambers to roll back women’s healthcare options. Heartbeat Bill The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that supporters of the so-called Heartbeat Bill (HB 125) have reached a compromise with Ohio Right to Life, an anti-abortion group that originally opposed the bill for being too extreme. HB 125 bans all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which can often occur before a woman even knows she is pregnant. Its only exception is for medical emergencies. No exceptions exist for instances of rape, incest or the long-term health of a woman. [Read more…]