Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) issued a statement today after Senate Bill (SB) 157, the latest Republican anti-abortion bill, passed the Ohio House on a party-line vote. Opponents say SB 157 would put patients in danger by interfering with the ability for doctors and patients to make appropriate and life-saving medical decisions if faced with a medical crisis during pregnancy.
“I voted no on SB 157 that puts the lives of patients in danger by interfering with their ability to consult with their physicians and make appropriate medical decisions during pregnancy. Every pregnancy is different, and patients should be free to make the health decisions that are best for them. SB 157, however, infringes on these freedoms and creates unnecessary interference when a medical crisis occurs. I will be calling on the governor to veto this dangerous bill,” said Leader Sykes.
The bill would also restrict abortion access in Ohio by prohibiting physicians who are employed by or teach at a medical school affiliated with a state university or college, state hospital or other public institution from being eligible for variances from written transfer agreements that are required for abortion clinics. During opponent testimony on the bill, advocates explained this provision is directly targeted to close abortion clinics in Southwest Ohio.
House Democrats introduced several amendments to SB 157 to support pregnant people and families, including to:
- Remove the bill's requirement that a person performing an abortion take measures to preserve the health of a child born alive during the attempted abortion, while retaining current law requiring measures to preserve the life of the child;
- Remove the bill's third degree felony penalty for failing to comply with the bill's reporting requirements;
- Eliminate the bill's provisions related to variances from the written transfer agreement requirement for ambulatory surgical facilities;
- Require employers to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s pregnancy, and prevent employers from denying pregnant employees any employment-related opportunities;
- Create the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program to provide 12 weeks of family and medical leave insurance benefits during a 12-month period to an individual to address the individual's serious health condition, to care for a family member, or to bond with a new child;
- Make it unlawful for an employer to either fail to provide an employee with adequate unpaid time off to give birth if the employee commenced employment for the employer at least twelve weeks before the birth or take an adverse employment action against a person because of the person's use of, or potential to use, the unpaid time off to give birth.
House Republicans rejected all Democratic amendments.
SB 157 is a part of a larger national attack on reproductive rights. Last Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on a Mississippi law that would ban abortion procedures 15 weeks after conception, effectively overturning Roe v. Wade. Additionally, Republican state lawmakers have also introduced legislation to completely ban abortion in Ohio.