COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio House Republicans approved a bill Wednesday that would strengthen Ohio’s abortion manslaughter laws. The legislation now goes to Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk for his signature.

What You Need To Know

  • A bill that would require doctors to preserve the health of a child born alive after abortion was approved by the Ohio House

  • Abortion rights advocates decried the bill, saying it’s not backed by science

  • The bill comes as abortion opponents are attempting to overturn long-standing U.S. Supreme Court precedent allowing unfettered access to abortions in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy

  • The bill goes to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk for final consideration

The bill passed through the House by a 59-33 margin.

According to the Legislative Service Commission, Senate Bill 157 would expand the crime of abortion manslaughter to include failure to take measures to preserve the health of a child born alive after abortion and allow the affected mother to sue a person guilty of abortion manslaughter. The bill would requires a physician who performs or attempts an abortion in a facility that is not a hospital and in which a child is born alive to immediately provide certain newborn care. 

The legislation would require the Director of the Ohio Department of Health to develop a child survival form that an attending physician must complete each time a child is born alive after an abortion or attempted abortion. The bill would require each facility in which a child was born alive following an abortion or attempted abortion to submit monthly and annual reports to ODH and for the department to issue annual reports summarizing the data. 

The bill has the support of a number of GOP legislators and was co-sponsored by Sen. Stephen Huffman, R-Tipp City. 

"Ohio is a pro-life state. Senate Bill 157 is another step in our continued commitment to uphold the sanctity of human life," Huffman said in October. "Regardless of what side of the abortion debate you are on, we can all agree that newborns deserve proper medical care and compassion.”

Those who are pro-choice, however, are petitioning against the legislation. Dr. Erika Boothman, a Columbus-based OB-GYN, said the bill addresses a “non-existent problem.” 

“Abortions do not happen after 20 weeks in Ohio,” Boothman said. “Fetal viability, so the ability to resuscitate a baby with a heartbeat is 22 (weeks) at the very, very earliest. So for facilities that are following this 20-week law, which all facilities are, this doesn’t happen.”

Boothman provided an example of a woman’s pregnancy that involved complications. Boothman said that the bill would require doctors to perform a futile attempt at resuscitation rather than allowing the baby to spend their final moments with their mother. 

“Comfort measures and medications may be offered to the baby, but resuscitative efforts would not be taken as they would be futile and take the baby away from the mother’s arms,” she said. 

The bill previously passed the Ohio Senate in a completely party-line vote of 25-6. 

In 2020, 20,605 abortions were induced in the state of Ohio, according to ODH. Of those, 61% were performed in the first nine weeks of pregnancy. The state reported that 441 abortions were performed after 19 weeks, with all 441 pregnancies being deemed “nonviable.”