Ohio maintains fairly comprehensive protections for women considering abortion and their unborn children, and it was the first state to regulate the provision of abortion-inducing drugs. However, it does not adequately protect vulnerable patients at the end of life, failing to prohibit assisted suicide.
- Ohio prohibits partial-birth abortion.
- Post-viability abortions are only permitted when the abortion is necessary to avoid the death of the pregnant woman or there is a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman. Two physicians must verify the medical necessity.
- A physician may not perform an abortion on a woman until at least 24 hours after the physician informs her of the nature of the proposed abortion procedure and its risks, the probable gestational age of the unborn child, and the medical risks of carrying the pregnancy to term. The physician must also provide state-prepared materials describing the development of the unborn child, public and private agencies providing assistance, state medical assistance benefits, and the father’s legal obligations.
- Ohio requires an abortion provider to offer a woman the opportunity to view an ultrasound and to obtain a copy of the image when an ultrasound is performed as part of the preparation for an abortion.
- As part of a budgetary measure, Ohio has mandated that before an abortion, the physician must attempt to determine if there is a fetal heartbeat. If a fetal heartbeat is detected, the abortion provider may not perform the abortion until 24 hours after he or she has informed the pregnant woman in writing that her baby has a heartbeat and of the statistical probability of bringing the baby to term based on the child’s stage of development. The provision is in litigation.
- Abortion facilities must post signs informing a woman that no one can force her to have an abortion. The law increases the penalty for domestic violence if the offender knew the woman was pregnant, while also permitting the recovery of compensatory and exemplary damages when mandatory reporters fail to report suspected coercive abuse.
- A physician may not perform an abortion on an unemancipated minor under the age of 18 until receiving the consent of one parent or guardian unless there is a medical emergency or the minor obtains a court order.
- Ohio licenses and regulates abortion clinics as a subset of ambulatory surgical centers. All abortion providers must maintain hospital admitting privileges.
- Ohio limits the performance of abortions to licensed physicians.
- Under current Ohio law, abortion providers must maintain a written transfer agreement with a hospital to facilitate care for women experiencing abortion complications. A 2013 requirement prohibiting publicly funded hospitals from entering into transfer agreements with abortion providers is in litigation.
- The state has an enforceable abortion reporting law, but does not require the reporting of information to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The measure pertains to both surgical and nonsurgical abortions and requires abortion providers to report short-term complications.
- Ohio follows the federal standard for Medicaid funding for abortions, only permitting the use of federal or state matching Medicaid funds for abortions necessary to preserve the life of the woman or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
- Ohio maintains a “tiering system” for the allocation of family planning funding including funding for which abortion providers might be eligible. Under the system, first priority for funding is given to public entities that are operated by state or local government entities. Most abortion providers fall into the lowest priority category of this system.
- Ohio law also generally provides that state or local public funds shall not be used to subsidize an abortion, except in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.
- Several state funding sources include abortion-related limitations. For example, women’s health services grants may not be used to provide abortion services and may not be used for counseling or referrals for abortions, except in cases of medical emergency. Services using these grants must be physically and financially separate from abortion-providing and abortion-promoting activities. In addition, generic services funds may not be used to counsel or refer for abortions, except in cases of medical emergency, and the Breast Cancer Fund of Ohio may not use money for abortion information, counseling, or services or for other abortion-related activities.
- State employee health insurance may not provide coverage for abortion unless the abortion is necessary to preserve the woman’s life, the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or an additional premium is paid for an optional rider.
- In 2004, Ohio enacted a law regulating the provision of RU-486 and creating criminal penalties for those providing the drug without following FDA-approved guidelines. The law also requires abortion providers to inform the state medical board whenever RU-486 leads to “serious complications.”
- Ohio permits motorists to pay a $30 fee for “Choose Life” specialty license plates, with $20 from the proceeds of each plate designated for non-profit groups that encourage adoption.
Legal Recognition and Protection of Unborn and Newly Born:
- Under Ohio criminal law, the killing of an unborn child at any stage of gestation is homicide.
- Ohio defines a nonfatal assault on an unborn child as a crime.
- Ohio allows a wrongful death (civil) action when a viable unborn child is killed through a negligent or criminal act.
- Ohio has a “Baby Moses” law, establishing a safe haven for mothers to legally leave their infants at designated places and ensuring the infants receive appropriate care and protection.
- The state funds drug treatment programs for pregnant women and newborns.
- Under the “Grieving Parents Act,” the state requires a fetal death certificate and burial in the death of an unborn child.
- Ohio maintains no laws regarding human cloning or destructive embryo research, or human egg harvesting; however, it bans fetal experimentation.
- The Ohio Department of Health has been directed to place printable information on umbilical cord blood banking and donation on its website. The Department is to encourage healthcare professionals to specifically provide this information to pregnant women.
- Ohio maintains no comprehensive regulations of assisted reproductive technologies.
- The state sets out parentage provisions related to embryos.
End of Life Laws:
- Ohio has declared that assisted suicide is against public policy; however, state law does not criminalize assisted suicide. Under existing Ohio law, an injunction may be issued to prevent a healthcare professional from participating in a suicide, and assisting a suicide is grounds for professional discipline.
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
Participation in Abortion:
- No person is required to participate in medical procedures that result in abortion.
- A hospital is not required to permit its facilities to be used for abortions.
Participation in Research Harmful to Human Life:
- Ohio currently provides no protection for the rights of healthcare providers who conscientiously object to participation in human cloning, destructive embryo research, or other forms of medical research, which violate a provider’s moral or religious belief.
What Happened in 2013:
- As part of a budgetary measure, Ohio mandated that before an abortion, the physician must attempt to determine if there is a fetal heartbeat. If a fetal heartbeat is detected, the abortion provider may not perform an abortion until 24 hours after he or she has informed the pregnant woman in writing that her baby has a heartbeat and of the statistical probability of bringing the pregnancy to term based on the child’s stage of development. This provision has been challenged in state court.
- The state also enacted a prohibition on publicly funded hospitals from entering into transfer agreements with abortion providers.
- The state also established a program to “provide services for pregnant women and parents or other relatives caring for children 12 months of age or younger” and to “promote childbirth, parenting, and alternatives to abortion.” Recipients of these funds cannot be involved in or associated with any abortion activities. This program has been challenged in state court.
- Ohio adopted a “tiering system” for the allocation of family planning funding including funding for which abortion providers might be eligible. Under the measure, first priority for funding is given to public entities that are operated by state or local government entities.
- Ohio considered measures related to advance planning documents, as well as measures related to pain management and palliative care.
Recommendations for Ohio
Women’s Protection Project Priorities:
- Abortion Patients’ Enhanced Safety Act
- Parental Involvement Enhancement Act
- Child Protection Act
- Abortion Mandate Opt-Out Act
- Defunding the Abortion Industry and Advancing Women’s Health Act
- Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act
- Joint Resolution Commending Pregnancy Care Centers
Legal Recognition and Protection for the Unborn:
- Unborn Wrongful Death Act (for pre-viable child)
- Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act
- Human Cloning Prohibition Act
- Destructive Embryo Research Act
- Prohibition on Public Funding of Human Cloning and Destructive Embryo Research Act
End of Life:
- Assisted Suicide Ban Act
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
- Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act