COLUMBUS, Ohio, January 18, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A pro-life Democrat’s bill to ban late-term abortions in Ohio is now among the state GOP’s top ten priority pieces of legislation, reports the Columbus Dispatch.
The Dispatch reports that HB 7, sponsored by Rep. Lorraine Fende (D-Willowick), is the only piece of Democrat-sponsored legislation to make it on the state House GOP leadership’s priority list.
Fende’s bill would ban abortions generally after 24 weeks of pregnancy, or past 22 weeks if tests confirm the unborn child is “viable” outside the womb. The bill has a physical health exception, but specifically excludes mental health, which is often used to bypass abortion restrictions entirely.
“I had a conversation with someone quite some time ago that right now, you could be 8 1/2 months pregnant and have an abortion for no reason,” Fende told the Dispatch, explaining what prompted her to propose the ban.
Fende added that she hoped the bill would get a hearing before the House discusses the state budget bill, since those debates end up consuming an enormous amount of the chamber’s time.
The Dispatch added that Fende’s bill is the first time in well over a decade that pro-life advocates in the legislature have challenged the legal status of late-term abortion. A federal appeals court struck down the state’s last late-term abortion ban in 1997, but the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow the federal partial birth abortion ban in 2007 has given pro-life advocates hope that the winds have changed in their favor.
According to Michael Gonidakis, executive director of Ohio Right to Life, the bill could end up saving the lives of close to 700 unborn babies a year in the state of Ohio. He told the Dispatch his group plans to try to amend the bill to cover unborn children as early as 20 weeks, and also to work on the health exception so it can withstand a legal challenge from pro-abortion groups.
Overall, late-term abortions represent the tip of the iceberg as far as the total number of abortions are concerned. The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research firm associated with Planned Parenthood, says that late-term abortions (past 21 weeks) represent 1.5 percent of the total number of U.S. abortions. Approximately 88 percent of unborn children aborted were killed by the 12th week of pregnancy. The vast majority of these early abortions (61.8 percent) were unborn children less than eight weeks old.
The Dispatch reports that figures from the Ohio Department of Health show 28,721 unborn children were aborted in the state in 2009; this represents a 40 percent drop in the number of abortions since 2000.