COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two Republican state lawmakers in Ohio introduced Texas-style legislation Tuesday that could effectively end all abortions in the state.
Reps. Jena Powell and Thomas Hall unveiled their bill in the heavily Republican Ohio House a day after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the Texas law on which it is modeled. A majority of justices signaled they would allow abortion providers to pursue a court challenge to the law.
The measure would subject clinics, doctors and any others who facilitate abortions to large financial penalties tied to lawsuits citizens could bring against them, and would make it difficult to mount legal challenges. The fact that the woman wanted an abortion is not a defense against litigation.
Twelve states, including Ohio, already have enacted bans on abortion early in pregnancy, but all have been blocked by the courts from taking effect.
However, the Texas law was the first of its kind in the nation to take its unique approach. Eighteen other GOP-controlled states have thrown their support behind the ban on most abortions, suggesting they might follow suit, should it be upheld as constitutional.
Powell and Hall opted not to wait. Powell said in a statement that the enforcement mechanism from the successful Texas law, which was upheld by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is necessary “since the constitutional fiction of Roe v. Wade has prevented communities from protecting our youngest children for the past fifty years.”
The landmark 1973 decision guaranteed women the right to an abortion until the fetus reaches the point of “viability.”
Already, 33 Ohio lawmakers — more than half of the House GOP caucus — have signed onto the new bill, signaling early momentum for its passage. The legislation's fate in the generally more cautious Ohio Senate, also under Republican control, is uncertain.
Anti-abortion groups praised the bill, while opponents called it extreme.
Lila Rose, founder and president of LiveAction, called the legislation “the beginning of the end of legally sanctioned abortions in America.”
Right to Life Action Coalition president Linda Theis called it “a major step” toward ending the procedure.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democratic candidate for governor, took the opportunity to pledge that she would veto any anti-abortion legislation she is sent, if elected.
“This dangerous bill would criminalize abortion and encourage vigilantism in our state,” she said in a statement. “Ohio deserves better than this anti-abortion extremism.”