Ohio has had a busy month in the House and Senate chambers with pro-life legislation. The Heartbeat Bill (H.B. 258) was passed by the Senate, though Gov. Kasich vetoed it. On Dec 27th, the Ohio House overrode the veto but the Ohio Senate did not, lacking just one vote necessary to overturn the veto.
However, a second pro-life piece of legislation which was getting less attention was passed and signed into law by Gov. Kasich on Dec. 21st. Senate Bill 145 (S.B. 145), or the Dismemberment Abortion Ban, makes D&E abortions a fourth-degree felony, which means prison time and possibly fines, community service, or additional prison time for the person convicted. Additionally, this bill allows a woman upon whom this type of abortion is performed illegally to sue the abortionist for damages
According to the bill, dismemberment abortion is a procedure with the “purpose of causing the death of an unborn child, to dismember a living unborn child and extract the unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus through use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors, or similar instruments that, through the convergence of two rigid levers, slice, crush, or grasp a portion of the unborn child’s body to cut or rip it off.”
This method ban essentially outlaws Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) abortions. D&E is the most common abortion procedure done in the second trimester of pregnancy, especially after 16 weeks. It is normally performed over a 24-hour period. A woman must first have her cervix softened and dilated using rods or laminaria before having her fetus removed. Since at later stages of gestation the fetus is too large to be removed by a suction cannula, forceps are used to grasp parts of the fetus firmly, tear them off, and removed them from the uterus piece by piece. Additionally, a curette and vacuum aspiration are used to remove any remaining small fetal pieces or other uterine tissue and lining.
This bill has two common-sense exceptions to the dismemberment abortion ban. The first would be if the abortion is needed “to preserve the life or physical health of the mother as a result of the mother’s life or physical health being endangered by a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.”
The other exception is if the fetus is already dead. While the actual ban includes the phrase “living unborn child,” the legislation makes it absolutely clear “’Dismemberment abortion’ does not include a procedure performed after the death of the unborn child to extract any remaining parts of the unborn child.” This means women will be able to get all the medical attention they need to stay alive and healthy, despite what abortion advocates may say about the bill.
While abortion advocacy groups such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood are upset over this new law, which will be effective 90 days after the signing date, pro-life groups are celebrating this incremental win. Approximately 8-10% of abortions are performed in the second trimester in the USA, so this bill has the chance to save hundred of preborn human lives in Ohio.