In March 2018, Ohio legislators introduced House Bill 565, which would outlaw abortions in Ohio. It would make abortion a crime and provide no exception for rape, incest, or to protect the health of the woman. This dangerous piece of legislation is the latest attempt by anti-abortion legislators to challenge Roe v. Wade, and is part of a long standing efforts to ban abortion completely in Ohio.

Under this bill, anyone who violates the law – a woman, medical professionals, friends of the woman who drive her to the clinic or help her purchase abortion pills — could be charged with murder, including aggravated murder, which carries with it the death penalty or life in prison. This bill shows a new low in how far anti-abortion legislators are willing to go to shame and punish women and the doctors who provide them with care.

One of the 18 sponsors of the bill said it would be up to prosecutors to decide what punishment to seek and who to charge. But around the country, state laws are already being misused by prosecutors to punish women for their reproductive health care decisions.

Abortion is health care, not a criminal act.

In 2016, Governor John Kasich signed a bill into law that banned abortion after 20 weeks gestation, and another bill that banned abortion after just six weeks was also introduced that year. In fact, there have been 20 attacks on access to abortion and other reproductive health care services signed into law during Kasich’s eight years as governor.

Ohio laws must allow women and health care providers to make decisions free from fear of criminal prosecution. Ohio should be protecting abortion rights and access so that people can obtain abortion care in Ohio without shame, pressure, or punishment.

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