COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The Ohio Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on a bill to further restrict abortions in Ohio.
Senate Bill 145 would ban dilation and evacuation, a procedure used in most abortions after 13 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy. Supporters of the bill say the abortion method is inhumane and painful for the fetus; opponents say the bill is unconstitutional and would eliminate safe and effective medical procedure.
The bill was passed out of the Judiciary Committee Tuesday morning on a party-line vote.
Members of a pro-life group called “Created Equal” filled the front row of the committee hearing room. They wore shirts with a picture of a fetus and the message “Don’t Dismember Me.”
Women dressed like handmaids – wearing red robes and white hats filled the back of the hearing room. Abortion rights groups NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio and Women Have Options organized the protest.
“The Handmaid’s Tale,” a Margaret Atwood novel turned Hulu series, takes place in a not-so-distant future where the United States has become a totalitarian society led by men and plagued by infertility. To solve that problem, child-bearing women are forced to become “handmaids” and birth babies fathered by men leading the regime.
Jaime Miracle, a spokeswoman for NARAL Ohio, told lawmakers the bill is unconstitutional, bad medicine and bad for Ohio. “The state of Ohio should be in the practice of making sure that our doctors are providing the best care they can to their patients and this bill does the exact opposite of this,” Miracle said.
Miracle says the bill will leave doctors with limited options to perform abortions in the second trimester – options that are less safe.
But Republican Sen. Peggy Lehner of Dayton questioned the opponents. “You constantly refer to this as the safest method of abortion,” Lehner said. “Does your organization have a concern for the humanity or the humaneness of the procedure?”
Ohio Right to Life spokesman Mike Gonidakis says this bill is part of a national agenda.
“The inhumanity of a dismemberment abortion leaves the rest of Ohio and America in shock,” Gonidakis said.
The committee vote left pro-choice supporter Mallory McMaster frustrated that state lawmakers are meddling with a doctor’s ability to provide the best possible care.
“That they’re the ones making the decisions about what health care is available to me – that’s scary,” McMaster said. “It chips away at the trust that I would have for the provider.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has signed into law more than a dozen measures restricting abortion since 2011, and eight of Ohio’s 16 abortion clinics have since closed or stopped providing abortions. The latest, a law banning abortions 20 weeks post-conception, took effect in March.