Ohio Right to Life has unveiled sweeping initiatives for the two-year legislative session, six measures the organization's leaders say would build on a series of recent successes and continue its strategy of chipping away at abortion rights while working toward a complete ban.
The latest push follows passage in December of a law banning abortions after 20 weeks, the most recent of 18 abortion restrictions enacted since Kasich took office in 2011. Others from past Right to Life priority lists include banning public hospitals from providing non-therapeutic abortions and requiring abortion clinics to have transfer agreements with a local hospital.
The centerpiece of its agenda for this two-year session is proposed legislation to outlaw a commonly used second-trimester abortion procedure, dilation and evacuation, which accounted for about 3,000 of the nearly 21,000 abortions performed in Ohio in 2015, according to the state Health Department.
"The No. 1 issue, which is part of our national strategy, is a dismemberment ban," said Michael Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life. "We would be the eighth state to enact one."
Calling the procedure "barbaric" and "inhumane," Gonidakis said the proposal would have an exception only to save the mother's life. The ban would apply only to women seeking to terminate their pregnancy and not impact those who may require the procedure following a miscarriage.
Critics argue the proposal would make it more difficult to obtain a second-term abortion. They note that the American Medical Association recognizes the procedure as among the safest ways to terminate pregnancy after 14 weeks, and it accounts for most second-term abortions.
"Ohio Right to Life doesn't care about women's health," said Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.
"There is not a single thing in their agenda that improves women's health; in fact, the new restrictions they are proposing will interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and prevent women from accessing the care that is best for themselves and their families. The goal of Ohio Right to Life is clear - to invoke shame and stigma against women who access abortion, and to punish the medical professionals that care for them."
Right to Life also is pushing bills that would: require burial or cremation of aborted fetuses; ban abortions based on diagnosis of Down syndrome; limit women's access to abortion-inducing pills; and prohibit the sale or receipt of compensation of any sort for fetal tissue or remains. In addition, the group is seeking additional tax funding for pregnancy centers across Ohio. It has received $500,000 in each of the past two years.
The proposals, Gonidakis said, are part of an "incremental, transparent approach" toward outlawing abortions.
Texas was the prototype, but Ohio looks to be the finished product for an agenda that will effectively shutter the state's abortion providers and leave millions of women in the state with no safe options for an abortion procedure.
Burying women, doctors, clinics, nurses and hospitals under burdens until the procedure cannot legally be performed? That's the plan.
Most likely it will work, especially once Neil Gorsuch is confirmed. I just don't expect Democrats to even put up a fight at this point. I don't know what it will take at this point.
Check that. I do know what it will take, and that's voters throwing out the GOP across America. But the odds of that happening when the Trump regime now stands to disenfranchise tens of millions of Democrats will grow slimmer by the day.
By 2018 it may not matter at all.