COLUMBUS — The Ohio House of Representatives introduced a bill completely banning abortion on March 19, and although it has little chance of ever becoming law, the move differs from prior Ohio anti-abortion bills that were drafted to slowly chip away at Roe V. Wade, the landmark decision that gave legal grounds to perform abortions before the age of viability.
House Bill 565, introduced by Ohio Reps. Ron Hood (R-Ashville) and A. Nino Vitale (R-Urbana), completely abolishes abortion, prohibits the procedure even in cases of rape, incest or danger to a woman’s life, gives legal personhood to the unborn and allows criminal charges, such as homicide, to be placed on doctors and pregnant women seeking abortions.
Moves by the Ohio legislature to limit abortion are by no means new. Since 2011, Ohio has enacted 20 different restrictions on abortions, and more are on the way. State legislators are currently considering a bill (S.B. 145) prohibiting one of the most common abortion methods and another (S.B. 28) requires any aborted fetuses be buried or cremated.
But House Bill 565 doesn’t take any short steps concerning abortion, and because of its hard-line stance, it mostly likely would be immediately struck down by the court system due to its unconstitutionality if signed into law. Rep. Craig Riedel, one of the 18 Republican cosponsors of the bill (two of them women), doesn’t see it moving out of committee.
“I’m not optimistic that it will get to House floor for a vote, and the reason that is: I just don’t think there’s enough support in the House to take on a bill of this magnitude. Because obviously this is big. You can’t get any more anti-abortion than this bill,” Riedel said. “To some members, it’s too controversial. I don’t think there’s enough of an appetite.”
Riedel represents Ohio House District 82, which consists of Defiance, Paulding and Van Wert counties.
“I guess to me, when you’re aborting a child before it’s born, you’re killing that child. And that child deserves to be protected, so I guess I’m just going to say I’m trying to protect that unborn child,” Riedel said. “I want people to understand that Craig Riedel is pro-life — is a staunch pro-life defender — and that won’t change. I believe that Jesus Christ is pro-life and every child deserves a chance to live. And I’m going to do all that I can in my position to protect that unborn child, so this legislation goes that direction, and that’s why I supported it.”
Riedel also recognized that the bill’s language was harsh toward pregnant women seeking abortions.
“I don’t think I would use the word ‘murderer.’ They used the word ‘murder’ in the bill. I wouldn’t say it that way,” he said. “I struggle with this, too. My Christian faith also asks me to be forgiving. I do believe it’s a sin to abort a baby. There’s no question that it is a sin. But I also believe that you can be forgiven for your sin, that our Lord Jesus Christ will forgive you of your sin even if you have had an abortion. He can forgive you for that as well.”
Ohio Rep. Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) is also named as one of the bill’s cosponsors. He represents District 83 comprising Hardin and Hancock counties. The Lima News reached out for comment from Sprague but was unable to reach him as of press time.
Out of the 19,543 abortions obtained in the state of Ohio, Allen County saw 93. Since 2006, the number has decreased by 60. The number of abortions peaked in Ohio in 1982 and has been steadily dropping in the last three decades.
Ohio’s current laws on the books regarding abortion require that women receive particular information regarding the abortion procedure 24 hours before undertaking the surgery, minors must be accompanied by a legal guardian and that each unborn fetus must be tested for viability if it is 19 weeks past gestation. Public funding is only available for an abortion in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
Ohio also has a “Drop-Off Law” which allows women who have had babies to drop off the newborns — those less than a month old — to medical workers or peace officers with no legal repercussions.
The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the state of Ohio four times in recent years over other abortion restriction laws. Ohio’s Legislative Service Commission estimated that Ohio has spent several thousand to several million dollars to defend their abortion laws.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.