Controversial Ohio bill defines preborn child as a person ‘from fertilization’

Ohio, fertilization

Ohio Rep. Candice Keller has introduced a bill that would ban almost all abortions in the state. 

HB 413 was introduced last year as well, but did not have enough support to move forward. The bill is currently before the House Criminal Justice Committee and seems to have more support. The bill is causing controversy because of a few unusual features. 

One unusual aspect of the bill is that, when talking about taking all possible steps to preserve the life of the preborn child, doctors must “if applicable … reimplant an ectopic pregnancy into the woman’s uterus” — something which is not as of yet medically possible. However, this shows in clear terms why treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is not an abortion

Other features of the bill include stating that “no person shall purposely, and with prior calculation and design, perform or have an abortion,” defining an “unborn child” to be a person “from fertilization until live birth,” who would be considered in the state’s criminal code the same as a minor under 13 for the purposes of murder. Punishments for murder of a minor under 13 means abortionists would be subject to life imprisonment or death under the Ohio penal code. The only exception would be if a mother’s life is in danger, and even then a doctor must take “all possible steps to preserve the life of the unborn child, while preserving the life of the woman.” 

According to a Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio (RTLACO) statement supportive of the bill, mothers would be afforded whistleblower-like protections, and would not be prosecuted under the law: “A whistle-blower provision in the bill provides affirmative defense to those (including the woman upon whom the illegal abortion may be committed) who help law enforcement officers investigate abortions.”

READ: Ohio Department of Health grants dangerous abortion facility a license

Rep. Keller said she introduced the bill in order to more starkly draw the lines defining abortion as an evil. “The time for regulating evil and compromise is over,” she said in a news release. “The time has come to abolish abortion in its entirety and recognize that each individual has the inviolable and inalienable Right to Life. Only respect for life can be the foundation of a free society that supports peace, justice and integrity.”

Another sponsor of the bill, Rep. Ron Hood, went even farther. “Up until this point, legislators have only regulated abortion,” said in a statement published by RTLACO. “They have decided which classes of people have a Right to Life by creating exceptions to abortion, which is tantamount to creating exceptions to pre-meditated murder.”

Yet not all pro-lifers are behind the bill. As Stephanie Ranade Krider, vice president and executive director of Ohio Right to Life, said according to Dispatch, “Ohio Right to Life was not involved in the drafting of this bill, although we share their ultimate goal of ending all abortion. … While we also feel a profound sense of urgency to end all abortion in Ohio, we believe that the Heartbeat Bill, which is currently in the courts, is the best way to achieve our goal of overturning Roe v Wade.” 

In April, Ohio passed a heartbeat law effectively banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat could be detected. The law was blocked by the courts before it was able to go into effect.

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