Ohio pro-life legislators to propose ban on abortions after 20 weeks

by Karen L. Willoughby, |

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Christian Examiner) – Ohio Right to Life leaders announced Tuesday, Jan. 27, that legislation banning abortions after 20 weeks is to be introduced "soon" to lawmakers. This move follows a dropped effort to ban abortions after six weeks' gestation, a plan advocates moved away from in caution about difficulties in winning that battle.

"An overwhelming majority of Americans, especially women, support protecting pre-born babies from scalpels and dismemberment," said Stephanie Krider, executive director of Ohio Right to Life, in a press release. "This is priority legislation for Ohio Right to Life and once again, the nation is watching."

The bill is expected "to mirror legislation pushed across the country," according to Laura Bischoff in an article for the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News. The bill would be "a controversial move that could bring a direct challenge to the 1973 Roe v Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court."

Abortions after 20 weeks have declined 62 percent in Ohio since the state passed its late-term abortion ban in 2011, said Michael Gonidakis, president of the Ohio Right to Life organization.

The new legislation, Gonidakis explained, is intended to challenge the Roe v Wade decision "in which the high court defined viability as being able to live outside the mother's womb, typically between 24 and 28 weeks."

Thirteen states already have adopted the 20-week ban—at which point unborn babies can feel pain—and it has been upheld in federal courts in Georgia and Arizona, Bischoff wrote.

Republican lawmakers in the U.S. House last week dropped plans for a bill that would have outlawed abortions after 20 weeks nationally. Instead they banned the use of tax dollars for abortion.

A ban on federal money for the use of abortions is considered each year. However, the most recent vote on the Hyde Amendment, coinciding with the March for Life in Washington D.C. and the anniversary of Roe v Wade, made the ban permanent.

South Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia in the first weeks of January introduced legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, according to an article by Nina Liss-Schultz for the RHRealityCheck.org website.

"It can be easy to forget that the fight for abortion access is largely taking place in state legislatures," Liss-Schultz wrote.

A November 2014 Quinnipiac University poll of 1,623 registered voters found 60 percent of Americans, including 59 percent of women, support a national 20-week abortion ban, with exceptions for survivors of rape or incest.