The bill will amend sections of the Ohio Revised Code “to create the capital offense of aggravated abortion murder and the offense of abortion murder,” according to the proposed legislation.
This legislation could result in either women getting an abortion or doctors providing the procedure to be charged with a felony of first-degree murder, or “abortion murder.” The person charged could be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. “Aggravated abortion murder” is also a charge the bill is proposing, which could be punishable by death.
“If the woman’s intent is to kill the child, then she would be (prosecuted). If she has a miscarriage, she shouldn’t be,” said Margie Christie, executive director of Dayton Right to Life and president of the Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio (RLACO). “If she was. … forced, they’re not going to be prosecuted.”
The bill mentions no exceptions for pregnancies created by incest or rape.
“We’ll never put a rape or incest clause in there,” Christie said.
Undoing Roe v. Wade
Doctors who perform abortions could be charged with “abortion murder,” if the legislation is approved. Doctors should attempt “to reimplant an ectopic pregnancy into the woman's uterus,” according to the legislation. Reimplating a pregnancy isn’t a procedure that exists in medical science.
“That was just an example that was put in the language,” Christie said. “We would expect the medical community to do whatever they could to save the child.”
Christie said they have no guidelines for doctors, but the movement wants the medical community to do “everything to protect mom and baby.”
“There’s no medical science behind reimplanting pregnancy. Legislatures do not have the medical power of creating medical science,” said Gabriel Mann, the communications manager for National Abortion Rights Action League Pro-Choice Ohio (NARAL). “It’s gotten serious responses from (the) American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, along with many other private physicians (who) attest to the fact that it is not a real medical thing.”
House Bill 413 is backed by the the Right to Life coalition and Christie said the purpose is to protect life.
“Our coalition has gotten frustrated with the statewide regulation of abortion instead of ending it,” Christie said. “All persons should be protected. A child at fertilization has the making of its own person, so it should have as much protection as any other person in the state of Ohio.”
Christie said the plan for the bill is that anyone who intends to “kill a child,” or have an abortion, in the state of Ohio, “then we have a problem.”
Christie said that doctors or women who have had abortions should be charged with murder because when a pregnant woman is killed, the person is usually charged with two murders.
“Murder is murder,” Christie said. “It’s nothing new, but it has people up in arms.”
Over the top?
Mann said NARAL thinks the legislation is so severe to change the way abortion is spoken, thought of and “to make people think we should be discussing felony charges for abortion.”
“They’re not trying to put this law into place, they’re trying to change the conversation around abortion right now,” Mann said. “(The bill is) outlandish by design. It’s not written with the intent of being immediately passed; it’s written to grabbing people’s attention.”
Ohio Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion organization, isn’t affiliated with Christie’s Dayton organization. Ohio Right to Life declined to comment to the Reflector, but the group president, Mike Gonidakis said in a previous interview the group didn’t support the bill when it was first introduced a year ago.
“If you’re not careful in crafting good pro-life legislation, you are ultimately going to lose and when you lose in the federal court system, it has ramifications,” Gonidakis said in the interview with Ideastream, a Cleveland public radio and TV outlet.
The bill is sponsored by U.S. Reps Candice Keller (R-Middletown) and Ron Hood (R-Ashville) and co-sponsored by 19 members of the 99-member House of Representatives.
In a press release, Christie said this has been the goal of the pro-life movement since the decision of Roe vs. Wade, which she called “disastrous.”
Keller believes “the time for regulating evil and compromise is over.”
“The time has come to abolish abortion in its entirety and recognize that each individual has the inviolable and inalienable right to life,” she said in a prepared statement.
The group first introduced this bill last year and Christie said they have been wanting to push this legislation for “years now.”
“This has been a goal of the pro-life community in Ohio,” she said. “Let’s talk about life at conception.”
Pro-choice groups are concerned about this bill, but there is more than one that needs considering.
“(House Bill 413 is) not alone, there are other bills and they’re all pedaling misinformation as if it were serious legislation,” Mann said. “Even though House Bill 413 is getting the big headlines, there are many bills that all require this level of attention and some of these bills have already gotten committee hearing and floor votes. We can't be distracted by the ones that sound the craziest.”
Mann said House Bill 413, or others like it, has the potential to impact other methods of birth control, such as prescription birth control, intrauterine devices (IUD) and others.
“They want to do anything they can to make people not be able to access abortion care or to stigmatize the procedure,” Mann said. “It's a very common procedure. We don’t need these sort of attacks on doctors that are providing this service.”