COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – An anti-abortion bill, which would make it illegal to get an abortion after receiving a diagnosis for an unborn child of Downs Syndrome, passed in the Ohio House Wednesday by a vote of 63-30 along party lines. But not until Democrats spent nearly an hour voicing their opposition to it and attempting to get three amendments attached to the bill.
House Bill 241 would also create a class four felony that would apply to any doctor that performed the abortion.
Republicans claim the bill protects the unborn from discrimination and is morally right. Democrats claim the bill infringes on the privacy rights of the mother and is illegal.
During discussion on the floor, Democrats attempted to add an amendment to the bill that would prevent a woman from being forced to explain why she got an abortion.
Another amendment was to increase funding for special education, which children with Downs Syndrome would benefit from.
A third amendment was to provide Medicaid to the mother once a diagnosis of Downs Syndrome was made, through the birth of the child, and to provide Medicaid to the child for life.
Republicans tabled all three amendments.
Sponsor of the bill Republican Representative Derek Merrin said the amendments are just a distraction and that if the Democrats were serious about them, they would have brought the amendments to himself or Representative LaTourette.
According to Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger, Senate President Larry Obhof seems open to the legislation.
The Senate has an identical bill going through committee right now. It has received three hearings but no vote yet in its committee.
Now that the House version has passed the chamber and is headed to the Senate, it’s likely it will be assigned to that same committee. It will be up to the chairman if he wants to hold three more hearings on the bill since they have already heard that identical bill three times already.
House Bill 241 is similar to a bill from Indiana recently blocked by a federal judge. The Attorney General of Indiana has pledged to appeal that decision to a Circuit Court in Chicago.
Democrats here say if the bill passes into law and is signed by the governor, its legality will be challenged.
State Representative Emilia Sykes said the current balance of power at the Statehouse is a result of gerrymandering and does not believe it is representative of the will of the people of Ohio on this matter.
If the bill gets to the Senate floor, Republicans hold the majority as they currently do in the House and pro-life experts expect the legislation to pass.