House Democrats today voted against Senate Bill (SB) 23, a GOP-backed near-total abortion ban that would prohibit abortions in Ohio long before most women know they are pregnant. SB 23 would become the most extreme abortion ban in the country if signed into law.
“This bill stands in opposition to everything this body claims to stand for. We claim to care about local control, except when we don’t. We claim to care about the expertise of medical professionals, except when it’s more politically convenient to ignore them,” said Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park). “And we claim to listen to our constituents and the concerns that they express, but as we saw with the passage of SB 23 today, we are doing exactly the opposite.”
SB 23 makes no exceptions for rape or incest, and provides limited exceptions for the life and health of the mother. A last-minute markup eliminated protections for women from forced vaginal ultrasounds and removed language that held the health of women as a legitimate interest of the state.
Democrats offered a number of amendments on the House floor, including:
- Exception for women who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
- Exemption for African-American women, whose history includes rape and forced birth imposed on enslaved women and black women after slavery.
- Establish 12-week paid parental leave and require reasonable pregnancy accommodations in the workplace
- Require men, as women are required under SB 23, to use their bodies at the direction of the state for medical purposes, including blood, bone marrow, tissue and organ donation.
- Exception for women whose constitutional right to liberty found in the 5th and 14th Amendments is infringed by restrictions in the bill, and prohibit public money from defending the bill from legal challenges.
- Eliminate Rape Statute of Limitations and eliminate spousal rape exception from Ohio law.
- Require coverage for mothers for five years and for children through age 18, and to appropriate funds for Medicaid coverage of additional forced births.
Republicans rejected the amendments along party lines without debate.
After passing the House, the bill moves to the Senate for concurrence on House changes before heading to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.