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Proposed Ohio abortion bill allows fines of at least $10,000 to anyone performing abortions

OHIO — Two local state representatives have introduced an abortion bill that would allow for civil lawsuits against people who “purposely perform or attempt to perform an abortion.”

House Bill 480 was introduced in November by Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) and Rep. Thomas Hall (R-Madison Twp.).

>> VIEW THE ENTIRE BILL

The bill would allow for civil penalties of at least $10,000 if whoever sues is successful in court over the person who performed or attempted the abortion.

Language in the bill would define abortion in Ohio to mean “the act of using, prescribing, administering, procuring, or selling of any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance, device, or means with the purpose to terminate the pregnancy of a woman, with knowledge that the termination by any of those means will, with reasonable likelihood, cause the death of the unborn child.”

Under the proposed law, abortions would still be permitted if a licensed physician performed or induced an abortion to which either of the following apply:

  • “It was designed or intended to prevent the death of a pregnant mother and the physician made reasonable medical efforts under the circumstances to preserve both the life of the mother and the life of her unborn child in a manner consistent with conventional medical practice.”
  • “It resulted in the accidental or unintentional injury or death to the unborn child.”

The proposed Ohio bill also includes language that does not protect the abortion provider from civil penalties if the unborn child’s mother consents to the abortion.

“The sanctity of human life, born and preborn, must be preserved in Ohio,” Powell said. “The 2363 Act is about protecting our fundamental, constitutional right to be born and live. Abortion kills children, scars families, and harms women. We can and must do better.”

The executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio told Cincinnati.com she is worried the law would deputize “anti-abortion vigilantes.”

“We know when things are criminalized, Black folks, women of color and nonbinary people are the ones most under scrutiny,” Copeland said. “Other people who have the money will find a way to flee Ohio to get the care they need.”

If the new law were to be approved in the Ohio General Assembly, it also would rewrite a portion of the Ohio Revised Code to change the definition of a person from “an individual” to “a born or unborn human being at any stage of development.”

Lawsuits filed under the bill would have to be filed no later than four years after the abortion was performed.

Powell and Butler’s proposal is co-sponsored by local representatives Rodney Creech (R-West Alexandria), Bill Dean (R-Xenia) and Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield).

The proposed bill comes after Texas passed a new abortion law that virtually ended abortion in the nation’s second-largest state after six weeks of pregnancy.

In November, a majority of the Supreme Court signaled Monday they would allow abortion providers to pursue a court challenge to the Texas law, the Associated Press reported.

But it was unclear how quickly the court would rule and whether it would issue an order blocking the law that has been in effect for two months, or require providers to ask a lower court to put the law on hold.

Powell’s proposed bill has been referred to committee in the Ohio House.