Jul 14, 2022 - Politics

Latest Ohio bill would ban abortions from conception

Illustration of the Ohio State Capitol with lines radiating from it.
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

A Christian pastor serving in the Ohio House of Representatives is proposing to ban abortion from the moment of conception.

Why it matters: The proposal shows continued momentum toward stricter abortion laws in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned.

Details: House Bill 704, backed by eight Republican lawmakers, would recognize personhood from conception.

  • This would effectively ban abortion, with exceptions in cases where a mother's life is in danger.
  • Rep. Gary Click (R-Vickery), a pastor who occasionally gives the prayer before House sessions, said in a statement his "Personhood Act" is meant to protect the constitutional rights of the unborn.

The other side: Opponents fear the vaguely-worded, 70-word bill would have broader consequences if enacted ā€” potentially limiting access to in-vitro fertilization and medications used to treat autoimmune diseases.

  • Thomas Burwinkel, a Cincinnati IVF specialist, told reporters last month that giving personhood to embryos could put fertility clinics at legal risk.
  • He questioned if a situation in which a malfunctioning liquid nitrogen tank destroys stored embryos could be considered an abortion.
  • There are reports of pharmacists in other states now withholding a drug used to treat cancer, arthritis and lupus because it can harm a fetus.

What they're saying: Kathryn Poe, a bone marrow transplant recipient from Columbus, is concerned the bill could disproportionately impact rare disease survivors ā€” who often face infertility ā€” and LGBTQ+ families.

  • "I have friends where IVF is their only option and only hope to conceive," Poe tells Axios.
  • "There's no way to possibly define 'personhood' that early in conception and not have it impact a lot of other unintended parts of someone's life."

The big picture: Other states have pushed for similar "personhood" legislation.

What's next: Progress on several abortion bills and other pending legislation will wait until Ohio lawmakers return in September from their summer break.

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