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Death Penalty Opponents Critize Bill To Outlaw All Abortions In Ohio

Abortion rights advocates protest the Down Syndrome ban on abortions at the Ohio Statehouse in 2017.
Julie Carr Smyth
Associated Press
Abortion advocates protest the Down Syndrome ban on abortions at the Ohio Statehouse in 2017.

Opponents of the death penalty say they are concerned about a newly proposed abortion ban in Ohio that could charge a woman who gets an abortion and a doctor who provides it with a capital crime.

The Republican-backed bill would recognize a fetus as a human and ban all abortions in Ohio. It would make abortion punishable by death, or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Death Penalty Action’s Abe Bonowitz opposes the idea of creating aggravated abortion murder as a new capital crime. He says putting someone to death for aborting a fetus is extreme.

“It’s a ridiculous and shameful way to stir up the pot," Bonowitz says.

Proponents of the measure say it’s intended to provoke a U.S. Supreme Court challenge to overturn “Roe v. Wade.” Critics question whether a ban like this could lead to a woman who had a miscarriage being arrested and charged.

But Bonowitz questions the bill’s timing, since a new Gallup pollshows support for the death penalty is dropping, even among Republicans. Ohio’s death penalty has been put on hold while the state looks for a new lethal injection method.  

Also placed on hold by courts: Ohio’s recent abortion restrictions, including a bill to ban abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

Gov. Mike DeWine has declined to say whether he’d sign a total abortion ban into law.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.