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Columbus Council Votes To Condemn Six-Week Abortion Ban

Christopher Columbus statue in front of Columbus City Hall.
Gabe Rosenberg

Less than a week after Gov. Mike DeWine signed a restrictive abortion ban, Columbus City Council voted to pass a resolution condemning the law, which is scheduled to take effect within 90 days.

The law, officially titled the “Human Rights Protection Act,” bans abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected – which can be as early as five or six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women know they’re pregnant. It contains no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, and includes criminal penalties for doctors who perform abortions in violation of the law.

On Monday, Columbus City Council unanimously approved Resolution 0129X-2019 to “oppose and condemn” the abortion ban and reaffirm the importance of “access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare,” including abortions.

“Without exceptions for cases of rape and incest and with complete disregard of the protections for the life and health of the woman, this ban will have profound negative impacts on women in Columbus,” said Council member Elizabeth Brown at the meeting.

The resolution does not outline any specific actions the city will take.

Pro-choice advocates say the bill effectively outlaws abortions in the state, and interferes with doctors’ abilities to treat pregnant patients.

"Governor DeWine and anti-choice Ohio legislators are waging a crusade to outlaw abortion in our state; forcing people to continue pregnancies regardless of the harm that may come to them or their family,” wrote NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio director Kellie Copeland in a statement. “The public servants on Columbus City County are wisely standing up for the reproductive freedom and dignity that everyone who needs abortion care deserves.”

Last Monday, before the abortion ban was finalized and signed, Cincinnati City Council passed its own motion opposing the bill and pledging to file a brief in support of any eventual lawsuit.

ACLU of Ohio said it will sue the state of Ohio to block the law from taking effect.

Ohio is the sixth state to enact such a ban, but other versions of the “Heartbeat Bill” have either been blocked or ruled unconstitional by federal courts.

DeWine and anti-abortion groups say they expect a legal fight, and hope the bill will end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gabe Rosenberg joined WOSU in October 2016. As digital news editor, Gabe reports breaking news and edits all content for the WOSU website, as well as manages the station's social media accounts.