Pro-life rally

A pro-life rally congregates in front of Mt. Auburn Planned Parenthood in protest of abortion on Oct. 10, 2016.

As Ohio Republicans attempt to pass an abortion ban that goes even further than the heartbeat bill in Texas, GOP lawmakers in Columbus aim to make abortions “safer.” They plan on doing this with Senate Bill 157, otherwise known as the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. The bill would create a database of “failed abortions” cases and criminalize physicians who don’t take life-saving action, with doctors potentially facing a first-degree felony charge and mandatory jail time.

“It’s important to understand that when we talk about this, it’s not an abortion bill,” state Sen. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott), a co-sponsor of the bill, said. “It’s a live baby bill.”

Confused? Me too. Out of the gauntlet for questions that arise when one hears of this bill, by far the most prominent is: “Are failed abortions common?”

The answer is no – not even close. According to an Ohio Department of Health report, “failed abortions” are incredibly rare. Out of more than 20,000 abortions performed in Ohio in 2020, only 46 “failed abortions” were reported. Of those 46 cases, none happened after 13 weeks of pregnancy, which is well before a baby can survive outside of the womb. In addition, abortion is illegal in Ohio after 22 weeks’ gestation, and none of the abortions in Ohio in 2020 were in pregnancies that were considered viable.

These numbers alone prove the uselessness of this bill, but there is even more reason that lawmakers at the Statehouse shouldn’t be wasting their time with the legislation.

One of the major reasons that proponents argue S.B. 157 is needed is the database it would create. Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City), a primary sponsor of the bill, argued as much to a House committee after the legislation passed the Senate. According to Huffman, the reporting system makes it so “we will know who and when this happens to, and it will provide for safer abortions in the future for anyone who desires them.”

“If an abortionist has 10 babies born alive in a year, and there’s a woman who wants to go have an abortion and she says look, this abortionist is not performing the abortion the way they should, I should go to somebody else that’s safer and better,” he said.

How earnest of the anti-abortion politician. But here’s the thing: the state already collects the data – that’s how I could cite it earlier. 

On top of the database, the bill also would criminalize doctor inaction, but there is already a medical standard for physicians who provide abortions. 

“If [a physician] already concluded that they’ve done everything to try to maintain the life of the child and there’s nothing left to be done, but yet they’ll be penalized and punished for an unknown,” said Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-Avondale). “I’m not understanding the logic of adding another layer to a law that’s already on the books.”

It’s unneeded, a waste of time and just another attack on abortion. Jaime Miracle, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, put it best: “This bill is a solution in search of a problem and is most certainly not about medicine."

News Director

Zachary Jarrell has been with The News Record since 2020 as a staff reporter, opinion reporter and now news director. He has interned with Gateway Journalism Review and The National Memo.