Ohio’s 20-Week Abortion Ban

THE ISSUE

  • In December 2016, the Ohio Legislature passed House Bill 69 that would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat could be detected
  • Bill 69 would only make exceptions after the six week mark if the woman’s life was in danger
  • Bill 69 would charge women with a 5th degree felony if they seek an abortion after a heartbeat has been detected
  • Ohio Governor John Kasich vetoed the bill, opting instead for a 20-week ban on abortions
  • Bill 69 does not provide exceptions in instances of rape and/or incest

WHY IT MATTERS

Women 18-24 typically aren’t focusing on family planning. However, this legislation is significant in Ohio considering the state has over 130 colleges and universities. The Ohio State University, Kent State University, and Ohio University educate 36,036, 18,000, and 17,202 women respectively. Statistically, in these three schools alone, 71,238 women could be impacted by this bill. If these women chose to terminate a pregnancy, they could face serious legal action and potential recourse. Moreover, college women ages 18-24 are three times as likely to be a victim of rape. Of these women, only about 20% report the crime to officials. Rape cases go unreported for a variety of reasons. Some instances of rape can lead to an unwanted pregnancy. Ohio women will not be able to easily access safe abortions in cases of rape. When forced to carry the pregnancy to term, the woman could face not only the mental and emotional challenges from the assault, but carry a financial burden as well. And since the median income of women 18-24 is only $11,903, the unexpected cost could hinder her life.

  • Life Begins at 20 Weeks

    • Science on Our Side: States such as North Dakota and Arkansas argue viability begins at conception because labs are able to keep a frozen embryo alive outside of the womb
    • Heartbeat = Life: A fetal heartbeat has become a key medical predictor in determining if the fetus will reach live birth
  • Women’s Right to Choose

    • When: Most medical experts in the U.S. cite the age of viability during pregnancy at 24 weeks
    • Educate: Promoting easy access to birth control and sex education are the best ways to reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions
    • Legal: In 1973, the case of Roe V. Wade, recognized that the constitutional right to privacy extends to a woman’s right to make her own medical decision

     

WHERE WE ARE NOW

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

  • Definitions of fetal viability during pregnancies
  • How this will impact college-age women, who are more susceptible to sexual assault?
  • Less than 5% of all natural pregnancies end in spontaneous miscarriage after detection of fetal cardiac activity
  • Is there a better compromise?