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Battle Brews Over Ohio's "Abortion-Ban Trigger" Bill

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Women's pro-choice advocates worry the current conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court will be open to overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. (Lorie Shaull/Flickr)
Women's pro-choice advocates worry the current conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court will be open to overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. (Lorie Shaull/Flickr)
 By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman - Producer, Contact
March 23, 2021

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A consequential debate over the future of reproductive rights could soon be coming to the Ohio Statehouse.

Senate Bill 123 is the latest so-called "trigger ban" to be introduced in Ohio.

Should the current majority of the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, the bill would ban all abortions in Ohio, except those necessary to save the mother's life.

Allie Frazier, director of communications for Ohio Right to Life, argued the landmark case was wrongly decided and is outdated.

"We know a lot more about life than we did back in the 1970s, with the advent of ultrasounds and our understanding of what when human life begins, and what women's empowerment means," Frazier contended.

Lauren Blauvelt-Copelin, vice president of government relations and public advocacy for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, thinks state lawmakers have the wrong priorities.

"Instead of increasing access to healthcare and passing bills that would address important things like the crisis around maternal and infant mortality, Republican legislators continue to try to strip Ohioans of their reproductive health, even during a pandemic," Blauvelt-Copelin countered. "We deserve better."

The bill offers no exceptions in cases of pregnancy that is the result of rape or incest, and allows felony charges for medical professionals who terminate a pregnancy.

Polling consistently shows more than half of Americans believe Roe v. Wade should be upheld.

But Frazier argued Ohio voters are anti-abortion.

"In the Ohio Statehouse, we have pro-life majorities in both chambers, and that has been a consistent feature of Ohio's political landscape for years now," Frazier pointed out. "It really goes to show that Ohioans prioritize life."

Abortion is legal in Ohio up to 20 weeks of gestation, but one in ten Ohio women in the most recent survey said they think abortion is illegal in the state.

Blauvelt-Copelin stressed women deserve to understand their healthcare options.

"Senate Bill 123 increases anxiety and misinformation for Ohioans," remarked. "That's why it's so important to state that abortion is still legal in Ohio, and we have to do more to increase access to reproductive healthcare."

Arkansas' Republican governor recently signed a near-total ban on abortion, saying he knows it isn't constitutional and is intended to directly challenge Roe v. Wade.

Reporting by Ohio News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.

Disclosure: The George Gund Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Health Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, and Women's Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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