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Leader Sykes, Rep. Boyd say latest GOP bill to limit access to safe abortions threatens women's health

Say GOP trying to fast track limits on telehealth during pandemic
December 8, 2020
Democratic Newsroom

COLUMBUS- Ohio House Health Committee Ranking Member Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) and House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) todayissued statements in opposition to Senate Bill (SB) 260, the latest Republican attack on women’s healthcare access that would ban abortion-related care via telemedicine.

“The idea that the House committee charged with the enormous responsibility of vetting policy regarding the health and wellbeing of all Ohioans would hear a bill targeting telehealth care specifically for women in the middle of a global public health crisis is shameful. That my colleagues, many of whom have contributed to a culture of anti-science and anti-medicine throughout the pandemic, remain preoccupied with a woman’s pregnancy and what she and her personal physician discuss is shameful. The fact that the bill’s sponsor is the same member of the Ohio Senate, a trained medical physician, who publicly asserted in the form of a question that COVID-19 disproportionately affects Black people because Black people don’t thoroughly wash their hands is shameful, tacky and absurd,” said Rep. Boyd.

“We ought to be focused on ensuring that all Ohioans have access to telehealth options when they and their healthcare professional determine that it’s appropriate. We ought to be addressing the racial and economic disparities that adversely affect the health outcomes of Ohioans. We ought to be focused on policy that protects our healthcare providers, not penalizes them for providing care, even if it’s a particular category of care we wouldn’t seek personally. We ought to represent all Ohioans.”

SB 260 would prohibit a doctor from providing an abortion-inducing drug to a patient if the doctor was not physically present, effectively banning abortion-related telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond, which Democrats say is not only an infringement on women’s rights, but also a threat to the health and safety of Ohio women. Under the bill, a doctor violating the law could face a fourth-degree felony on the first offense, and a third-degree felony for subsequent violations.

“Republicans love to chip away at women’s rights after the election when the eyes of voters aren’t fixed on them. But what makes this latest attack truly unconscionable is the fact that they’re actively trying to limit access to safe, accessible care during a pandemic that’s already claimed the lives of more than 7,000 Ohioans,” said Leader Sykes. “Refusing to follow best practices has led to an outbreak at the statehouse, and now it could threaten the health and safety of women across Ohio.”

The latest GOP attack on women’s access to safe, accessible health care comes as coronavirus continues to surge across Ohio, including the Statehouse, where three House members have reported positive coronavirus test results since Friday. All three members attended committee hearing and floor votes last week. Leader Sykes has since called for the Speaker to suspend committees and sessions to conduct contact tracing.