On Nov. 2, Ohio Republicans, led by Rep. Jena Powell and Rep. Thomas Hall, introduced House Bill 480, which would ban abortions from taking place in Ohio, with exceptions only for cases where the mother’s life is endangered.
Named the 2363 Act in reference to the 2,363 abortions that occur every day in the United States, this bill would allow any individual to pursue civil action against someone who performs an abortion or knowingly “aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.” If successful in civil action, the individual who reported the offense would receive statutory damages of $10,000. Government officials and anyone who impregnates the abortion seeker by force are not permitted to seek damages.
The bill has prompted strong reactions from Democrats and Republicans alike, with some lawmakers referring to it as a more extreme version of Texas Senate Bill 8, which went into effect on Sept. 2 and prohibits abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Lawsuits challenging the Texas bill’s constitutionality were heard in a state court on Wed. Nov. 11. With a 6-3 conservative majority sitting on the Supreme Court, some fear that the wave of restrictive abortion bills could mean a possible end to Roe v. Wade.
Meanwhile, pro-life groups celebrated the proposed legislation as a monumental step towards protecting human life.
“The 2363 Act would write into law the truth that every single preborn child deserves protection,” Lila Rose, founder of pro-life organization Live Action, said in a statement. “The 2363 Act is the beginning of the end of legally sanctioned abortions in America.”
Pro-choice groups, however, see this bill as yet another example of laws that will restrict reproductive freedoms.
“Banning abortion would be catastrophic to communities across Ohio,” said Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Advocacy of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio Lauren Blauvelt-Copelin in a statement issued by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio. “Lawmakers and anti-abortion vigilantes have no business making personal medical decisions for their neighbors.”
On Nov. 9, the bill was referred to the House Families, Aging and Human Services Committee. It is unclear whether it will have enough support to pass the Ohio House and state Senate.