DeWine Signs Abortion Restriction That's Likely to Close Southwest Ohio Clinics

“At this moment, we’re at a crisis point for abortion access in Ohio and across the country,” Planned Parenthood says.

Photo: Official portrait
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed a new abortion law on Wednesday that looks likely to close Southwest Ohio abortion clinics.

DeWine signed Senate Bill 157 without further comment, along with several other bills that passed through the legislature in their last work week before the holidays.

The bill was condemned by abortion providers, who said not only that portions of the bill that direct doctors on the amount of care they should give babies born as a result of a “failed abortion” are already part of medical oaths and Ohio law, but that the bill would impact wanted pregnancies in which complications become a factor.

“At this moment, we’re at a crisis point for abortion access in Ohio and across the country,” said Kersha Deibel, CEO of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio. “…Stripping abortion care from Southwest Ohio will cause havoc that disproportionately impacts our communities.”

The Southwest Ohio region of Planned Parenthood also opposes the legislation because of changes to hospital transfer variance agreements between abortion providers and physicians, prohibiting for doctors who are funded by Ohio’s public medical schools from participating.

“There is no medical justification for disallowing qualified, experienced physicians from agreeing to provide backup coverage for abortion providers under a variance,” said Dr. Adarsh Krishen, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio. “In fact, if the state was genuinely concerned for patient safety, such physicians would be ideal. Instead, this provision is only meant to make it more challenging for abortion providers to remain licensed and operational.”

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley slammed DeWine for signing the bill, which will affect two abortion centers in and near Cincinnati.

"Gov. DeWine and his legislative allies will stop at nothing in their efforts to unravel the constitutional right to an abortion,’" said Cranley, who is running to become the Democratic nominee to unseat DeWine as governor in 2022. "Everyone should have access to quality, affordable health care, and that includes reproductive health care. As governor, I will veto any bills to restrict abortion access that cross my desk."

"Abortion bans are bad policy and bad politics,’" Cranley added. "Ohio ranks near the bottom in so many quality-of-life issues. Reversing those trends will be my focus as governor."

The religious policy lobby Center for Christian Virtue praised the law and the potential shut down of Women’s Med Center in Dayton and Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio’s clinic, saying the state “has made a bold statement about where our values lie.”

Based in Columbus, the Center for Christian Virtue stirred controversy in Cincinnati this summer when David Mahan, the center's policy director, was invited to give a violently anti-trans sermon at Crossroads Church in Oakley.

DeWine did not comment on the bill with his announcement that the bill had been signed.

The bill is one of a few pieces of abortion legislation brought by the legislature this year. Another measure would make abortion illegal with the rollback of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.

Cities near Cincinnati have considered their own anti-abortion efforts. After months of attempting to become a "sanctuary city for the unborn," Mason finally gave up its mission to ban abortions when the city council voted 6-1 to repeal an anti-abortion ordinance in December. Had the ban taken effect, it would have outlawed abortion at all gestational stages within Mason's city limits and punished those who "aid and abet" abortions through funding, transportation and more. Violators could have been fined $2,500 and spent a year in prison.

In May, nearby Lebanon council members unanimously passed a similar anti-abortion ordinance. The ACLU of Ohio said Lebanon's legislation was “blatantly unconstitutional” and ripe for legal challenge.

A portion of this story was originally published by the Ohio Capital Journal and republished here with permission.

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