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Ohio lawmakers pass abortion bill that likely would close only clinics left in Cincinnati, Dayton

Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 6:05 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 8, 2021 at 6:09 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - House lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday that would likely shut down the only abortion clinics left in southwest Ohio if Gov. Mike DeWine signs it into law.

Senate Bill 157 requires Ohio doctors to perform life-saving care on fetuses that survive failed abortions.

Physicians who fail to would be charged with a first-degree felony.

The bill also requires physicians to report cases of babies born alive after abortions or attempted abortions, and bars abortion clinics from working with doctors who teach at state-funded hospitals and medical schools.

That makes it harder, if not impossible, for two Southeast Ohio abortion clinics that are the last in the state to remain open.

“The bill ensures taxpayer dollars do not directly or indirectly fund abortions by prohibiting a physician from being employed at a state-funded higher education or medical institution if they serve as a consulting physician for an abortion clinic,” said one of the Republican senators who sponsored the legislation, Terry Johnson, in a statement when the Senate passed the measure back in October.

Johnson, a retired doctor, represents a district that holds Adams, Brown and Clermont counties and parts of Lawrence Scioto counties.

Abortion in Ohio is legal up to 20 weeks of pregnancy except in the Warren County cities of Mason and Lebanon, where it recently was outlawed by local ordinances.

Senate Bill 157 was passed along party lines in both the House and Senate.

State Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) said Wednesday this endangers patients by interfering with the ability for doctors and patients to make appropriate and life-saving medical decisions if faced with a medical crisis during pregnancy.

“SB 157 would threaten the health and safety of patients who face medical crises during their pregnancy,” she said in a prepared statement.

“This legislation puts patients in danger by interfering with the ability of doctors to make appropriate, life-saving medical decisions during unimaginable pregnancy complications.”

Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio in Mt. Auburn in Cincinnati and Women’s Med Center in Kettering near Dayton operate without transfer agreements with a hospital under a variance to that requirement.

They have other agreements with doctors that require the physicians to step in if there’s an emergency.

The Ohio Department of Health grants the variances.

Senate Bill 157 requires the Department of Health to revoke variances if the consulting physicians teach or are employed by a university, state hospital or other public institution.

The bill now heads to Gov. Mike DeWine, after it goes back to the Senate for one more vote.

DeWine has voted along party lines on abortion issues.

He signed a bill into law that banned almost all abortions once a fetal heartbeat was detected. A federal judge, however, blocked the “heartbeat law” from going into effect in 2019.

SB 157 isn’t the only abortion bill up for consideration by lawmakers right now.

House Bill 480 outlaws abortions at any stage of pregnancy and allows almost anyone to file a civil lawsuit against a provider for up to $10,000.

Senate Bill 123 will ban abortion statewide if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

We reached out to a spokesman for the governor and will update this story once we hear back.

Abortion rights advocates condemned the bill as an attack on a woman’s legal right to abortion and say it will close some of the last clinics left in the state.

“Right now, we’re at a crisis point for abortion access in Ohio and across the country,” said Kersha Deibel, chief operating officer of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region.

The anti-abortion group Ohio Right to Life praised lawmakers for passing the measure.

“This vital anti-infanticide legislation will ensure that a baby who survives a botched abortion receives life-saving care,” Mary Parker, the group’s director of legislative affairs, said in a statement.

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