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Bill to reduce Ohio abortion laws introduced

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(The Center Square) – The process to remove abortion restrictions in Ohio is under way after voters enshrined abortion rights in the state’s constitution in November.

Reps. Anita Somani, D-Dublin, and Beth Liston, D-Dubin, formally introduced legislation to ease the restrictions but no hearings have been set in the House.

Both Somani and Liston are physicians.

The amendment easily passed 57%-43% and takes effect Dec. 7. It not only enshrines abortion rights in the state constitution but also the right to make reproductive decisions and carry out those decisions, including those about birth control, fertility treatments and miscarriage.

It passed in 25 of Ohio’s 88 counties. By comparison, President Joe Biden, a Democrat, only won seven counties in the 2022 presidential election.

“With the passage of Issue 1, we have made abortion access a constitutional right,” Somani said in a statement. “However, there is much that still needs to be done to remove barriers to care and improve access. The Reproductive Care Act will help to do both by eliminating some of the barriers that have been legislated over the past 10 years.”

The bill would repeal current laws related to abortion, such as mandatory 24-hour waiting periods, transfer agreements and targeted restrictions on abortion provider laws that require abortion clinics to meet the same requirements as ambulatory surgical centers.

It would also add protections to patients and providers, including data privacy and nondiscrimination, along with civil and criminal protections for evidence-based care.

Following the election, Republican lawmakers promised the state’s abortion fight was not over.

At that time, Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, said another ballot issue could come soon, and House Speaker Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill, said the Legislature can take steps to stop abortion.

Huffman has since backed off the idea of another recent abortion election, but Republican lawmakers have pushed a plan to remove the power of the state’s courts to review abortion laws potentially challenged after the amendment’s approval.

Instead, they want the General Assembly, dominated by the GOP, to make rulings on those challenges.

“No amendment can overturn the God-given rights with which we were born,” Rep. Beth Lear, R-Galena, said.

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