Without a doubt, abortion is one of the most intensely debated issues in the country. Even though the landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade in 1973 essentially made abortion legal, some states – including Ohio – have placed restrictions on the procedure.
What Is Abortion?
Simply put, abortion is the ending of a pregnancy before the birth of a child. There are essentially two methods for an abortion.
- The woman can take a pill that will cause an early miscarriage.
- A relatively quick surgical operation can end the pregnancy.
In either case, the procedure is carried out by a licensed health care professional.
What Are Ohio’s Abortion Laws?
At the turn of the 20th century, abortion was a felony in every state. In 1967, Colorado became the first state to make abortion legal in cases of rape, incest, or in cases where a pregnancy would harm the woman. California, Oregon, and North Carolina passed similar laws that same year.
Right now, Ohio abortion laws are in a state of flux.
In April, Ohio joined a host of other states in passing a “heartbeat bill” to make abortion illegal once heartbeat activity is detected. Doctors who perform an abortion after detecting a heartbeat would face up to a year in prison under the law. Also, there are no exceptions for abortions in cases involving rape or incest.
The problem is that, in many cases, a heartbeat can be detected as early as five to six weeks into the pregnancy – which is often well before many women realize they’re pregnant.
In July, a federal judge temporarily blocked the law shortly before it was due to go into effect. The ACLU of Ohio and Planned Parenthood began the lawsuit to stop the bill.
The case will proceed to the U.S. Supreme court to be resolved.
In a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, most Ohio voters oppose the “heartbeat bill,” with 52 percent opposed to it and 39 percent in favor. A spokesperson for Quinnipiac University said, “When it comes to the thorny political issue of abortion, Ohio voters come down on the pro-choice side.”
When Can a Woman Get an Abortion in Ohio?
In Ohio, a woman currently has the right to an abortion up until the point of viability, which is usually 21 weeks and six days since her last period. Once a pregnancy passes the viability stage, abortion is illegal unless it’s absolutely necessary to protect her health.
Can a Minor Have an Abortion in Ohio?
Yes, if you’re under the age of 18, abortions are legal, but you must have permission from a parent or legal guardian. Also, the parent or guardian must accompany you to the clinic for the procedure.
A judge, though, can excuse this requirement. The minor requesting such relief must file an affidavit with a juvenile court. She must also prove she is either employed and living on her own or married.
What are the Restrictions on Abortion in Ohio?
Even though the Roe v. Wade decision provided the constitutional right to abortion in 1973, more states have adopted laws intended to limit the number of procedures done.
Ohio is such a state.
Under Ohio state law, you’re required to have two in-person visits with the provider who will be performing the abortion.
The first visit will include a counseling session and an ultrasound test to determine the stage of the pregnancy. This is known as Ohio’s 24-hour law, which requires women to receive specific information before the procedure itself.
The required information includes:
- The nature and purpose of abortion
- Medical risks associated with the abortion procedure
- Risks of abortion compared to risks of giving birth to the baby
The second visit will be for the actual procedure.
Also, there is no financial assistance from public funding – from the Affordable Care Act and other sources – unless the case involves life endangerment, rape, or incest.
What Are the Penalties for Illegal Abortions in Ohio?
Here in Ohio, an abortion is considered to be illegal if:
- No informed consent was obtained
- The abortion was performed after the stage of viability, and
- Terminating a child born alive or failing to save its life.
An illegal abortion is considered to be a first-degree misdemeanor – punished by up to 6 months in jail – for the first offense. It’s a fourth-degree felony – with up to 18 months in jail – for the second and additional violations.
Depending on the case, there could be additional penalties and criminal charges.
Ohio Abortion Law Attorneys
Ohio abortion law can be confusing – especially with the controversial “heartbeat bill” headed towards the U.S. Supreme Court.
While it’s a sensitive subject, your best bet for understanding your options is by contacting a criminal defense attorney to advise you on the specific rights you have.