Reproductive Freedom

Ohio Legislature Passes More Legislation Restricting Families’ Decisions


The Ohio General Assembly passed H.B. 79 on December 13, 2011, which would prevent a woman from purchasing abortion coverage under the new state healthcare exchange required under federal law. The ACLU believes the law runs afoul of a newly enacted state constitutional amendment that prohibits restrictions on the sale of insurance, and has vowed to challenge the law in court.

Legislators also conducted hearings on H.B. 125, which would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. If passed, the bill would effectively outlaw all abortions. On Dec 13, Senate president Niehaus (R-New Richmond) suspended hearings on the bill indefinitely after various constitutional concerns were raised.

The passage of H.B. 79 is one of a long line of new restrictions on families’ ability to make decisions on personal, private healthcare issues. This year alone, legislators have also approved:

  • H.B. 78, which bans abortion at 24 weeks without an adequate health exception for the mother or exceptions for rape and incest. The bill also requires viability testing at 20 weeks gestation. However, there is no medically recognized procedure for determining the viability of a fetus between 20 and 24 weeks;
  • H.B. 63, which makes it more difficult for minors to obtain a judicial bypass to have an abortion, if they cannot get the consent of one of their parents; and
  • Amendments to the state’s budget to bar local public employee insurance plans from covering abortions and to bar public hospitals from providing abortions, except in cases of reported rape or incest or to save the life of the woman.