Ohio lawmakers introduce abortion bill that goes further than Texas law

Ohio Republicans introduced a bill on Wednesday that calls for a total ban on abortions in the state, reaching farther than the Texas “heartbeat” law that is currently under examination by the Supreme Court.

The bill, called the 2363 Act, which the lawmakers said is the number of children lost to abortion everyday in the U.S., seeks to ban all abortions in Ohio and, like the Texas law, empower “any person” to bring civil action against an individual who performs and abortion or “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.”

Individuals who filed such lawsuits will be permitted to ask for $10,000 or more, according to Cleveland.com.

The legislation does not include exceptions for rape or incest, but it would shield abortion patients from being sued by individuals who may have gotten them pregnant through rape or another form of sexual violence.

The controversial Texas law bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, something that can occur as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — a point where many women will not know they are pregnant.

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently debating the Texas law, which sparked outrage nationwide when it was enacted in September.

The justices previously denied a request to block the law largely along ideological lines, but they are now giving the text another look.

The Ohio bill, if passed and signed into law, would ban defendants in civil suits from claiming ignorance or mistake of law as a defense, in addition to any personal belief that the legislation is unconstitutional.

Additionally, the text says that defendants cannot point to a court decision’s ruling as a defense if it is later overruled — even if it remained intact at the time of the abortion.

Ohio Rep. Jena Powell (R), who introduced the bill, said it is about protecting life.

“The sanctity of human life, born and preborn, must be preserved in Ohio,” Powell said, according to Cleveland.com. “The 2363 Act is about protecting our fundamental, constitutional right to be born and live. Abortion kills children, scars families, and harms women. We can and must do better.”

Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D) slammed the bill, calling it “an egregious assault on women, a dangerous attack on healthcare rights and an embarrassment for our state,” adding that “Ohio Republicans want to control women, but we won’t be silent.”

“Criminalizing care will disproportionately impact women of color, nonbinary people and those already at a disadvantage in our health and criminal justice system. …Once again, Republicans are showing that the everyday needs of Ohioans are less important than scoring political points, likes and retweets,” Sykes said, according to Cleveland.com.

The Ohio state House has a 65 to 35 Republican majority.

A number of abortion-rights groups also condemned the bill.

Lauren Blauvelt-Copelin, the vice president of government affairs and public advocacy at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, said “lawmakers and anti-abortion vigilantes have no business making personal medical decisions for their neighbors.”

“Ohio has once again proved it is one of the most extreme states for abortion access. This bill goes further than Texas Senate Bill 8, the most extreme abortion ban in the country, and would ban all abortions. It allows anyone — including anti-abortion protesters who have no connection to the patient — to act as paid bounty hunters and take doctors, health centers, and anyone who helps another person access abortion to court and get no less than $10,000. Banning abortion would be catastrophic to communities across Ohio,” she added in a statement.