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Ohio effort would ban most abortions after 13 weeks

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USA Today Network
Jessie Balmert, The Cincinnati Enquirer

12:08 a.m. ET Feb. 10, 2017

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USA TODAY

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio’s abortion opponents want to outlaw a surgical abortion procedure, effectively banning most abortions after 13 weeks gestation.

The procedure, called dilation and evacuation, involves opening the cervix to remove the contents of the uterus. Dilation and evacuation was used in nearly 3,000 Ohio abortions in 2015, according to state records, and accounts for most abortions performed between 13 and 24 weeks gestation. The procedure is also used after some miscarriages.

Abortion opponents say dilation and evacuation is another term for dismemberment. They want to ban the “barbaric” and “brutal” practice, Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis said. The bill, which Sen. Matt Huffman R-Lima, plans to introduce, would include an exception for the life of the woman.

Anti-abortion activists, emboldened by President Trump’s election, are looking for ways to challenge the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade, which affirmed abortion rights under the U.S. Constitution. They hope to gain a majority on the court with conservative justices such as federal Judge Neil Gorsuch, whom Trump nominated last month.

Under current legal standards, states cannot limit abortions before the fetus is viable outside the womb, generally accepted to be 24 weeks gestation.

Seven states have passed laws to ban dilation and evacuation. Court challenges have placed the laws on hold in several states, including Kansas, which was the first to pass a ban. Prohibitions on dilation and evacuation have taken effect in West Virginia and Mississippi.

Now abortion opponents nationwide are targeting Ohio, where the state’s GOP-controlled Legislature and Gov. John Kasich have enacted multiple abortion restrictions in recent years.

“The goals are all the same: to outlaw abortion,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.

The move to ban dilation and evacuation abortions comes less than two months after Kasich signed a law to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks gestation. The Republican governor also vetoed an effort to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks gestation. Lawmakers intend to reintroduce the so-called “heartbeat bill” soon, despite opposition from Ohio Right to Life.

Kasich recently told reporters that he vetoed the heartbeat bill in part because it lacked an exception for rape or incest. He signed a 20-week ban with no such exceptions, and the proposed ban on dilation and evacuation abortions would not include an exception for rape or incest.

Anti-abortion activists also are asking lawmakers to consider proposals to bury or cremate fetal remains and to ban abortions based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome. They also want to prohibit the sale of fetal tissue or organs, which has not occurred in Ohio, according to an investigation by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Follow Jessie Balmert on Twitter: @JessieBalmert

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