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Ohio House Approves Bill On Babies Born Alive After Abortion

A sign is displayed at Planned Parenthood of Utah Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, in Salt Lake City.
Rick Bowmer
Associated Press
A sign is displayed at Planned Parenthood of Utah Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, in Salt Lake City.

Ohio doctors who fail to give medical care in the extremely rare circumstance when a baby is born alive following an abortion attempt would face criminal penalties under legislation that cleared the Republican-run Ohio House Wednesday.

The Ohio House passed the bill along party lines with Republicans who support it said it is needed to protect babies. But Democrats said it will hurt women with difficult pregnancies or deliveries. They also warn it will have unintended consequences.

Under this bill, doctors could be charged with a felony and pay fines if they fail to provide medical care to an infant born as the result of a botched abortion.

But Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin), a practicing physician, said that’s not likely to happen since abortion is illegal in most cases at 20 weeks of gestation.

“There are no elective abortions after 20 weeks of fertilization in this state. The only situations this bill impacts are those emergency circumstances where the woman’s life is at risk or there is a serious complication with the fetus," Liston said.

Liston’s amendment to remove the criminal penalties from the bill failed along with a handful of others proposed by Democrats.

The bill also makes changes to variances for transfer agreements that abortion clinics often need to operate. Because of that provision, Kersha Deibel of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region said clinics in her area will have a hard time continuing to operate.

"Right now, we're at crisis point for abortion access in Ohio and across the country. Anti-abortion politicians have made it their job to bury abortion providers under TRAP laws that providing and accessing essential health care to Ohioans has become an obstacle course," Deibel said.

Abortion foes praised the measure as vital to ensuring the safety of babies born alive after abortions.

"No baby in Ohio, regardless of circumstances surrounding his or her birth, should be left to die alone," Mary Parker, director of legislative affairs at Ohio Right to Life, said. "This vital anti-infanticide legislation will ensure that a baby who survives a botched abortion receives life-saving care."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

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.