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Miami students discuss Ohio’s introduced abortion ban

Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision federally legalizing abortion made almost 50 years ago, has been drawing national attention as discussions swirl about a potential overturning. Many in Ohio are watching their own state legislature as it considers a comprehensive abortion ban.

Just weeks after the Texas “heartbeat” bill passed, Ohio House Republicans proposed the “2363 Act” which would effectively ban abortion in Ohio. Similar to the Texas legislation, the bill allows for civil action to be brought against any person who performs an abortion or aids in the pursuit of the procedure.

Texas banned abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which typically occurs around six weeks of pregnancy. 

The legislation of Ohio House Bill 480, the official name for the bill, states, “No person shall purposely perform or attempt to perform an abortion.” The bill does not allow any exceptions for rape or incest. 

Representative Jena Powell introduced the 2363 Act, named for the number of “children lost to abortion every day in the United States,” according to the bill. 

In 2019, the CDC reports there were 629,898 legal induced abortions reported from 49 states. According to that estimate, there is an average of 1,726 abortions a day. 

In a public statement released Nov. 2, Planned Parenthood wrote, “House Bill 480 is clearly unconstitutional and is in direct conflict with the nearly 50 years of Supreme Court jurisprudence since Roe v. Wade that has continuously and systematically upheld the right to abortion.”

The public statement included a statement from Lauren Blauvelt-Copelin, vice president of Government Affairs and Public Advocacy at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio.

“Banning abortion would be catastrophic to communities across Ohio,” Blauvelt-Copelin wrote. “Lawmakers and anti-abortion vigilantes have no business making personal medical decisions for their neighbors.”

Last year, the cities of Lebanon and Mason passed their own abortion bans despite not having any abortion clinics within either city’s limits. Mason’s abortion ban was later repealed in December.  

For the Republican legislators who proposed the bill, the passage of Ohio House Bill 480 will be a landmark piece of legislation.

Sidra Capriolo, a junior psychology and Spanish double major, pointed out the unique difficulties college students face when it comes to accessing abortion services or raising a child while in school.

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“It’s not like there are scholarships for having children,” Capriolo said. “It’s not like pro-life groups are paying for your medical expenses. That’s just not something that happens. [Those seeking abortions] also might not have a car or a friend or family member who’s able to drive them to a different state.”

Capriolo points out that accessing the medical care necessary to receive an abortion or carry a child to term poses obstacles for college students. She said students often do not have access to a car, live near an abortion clinic or work part time. 

Capriolo outlined the risks imposed on women with limited access to reproductive care. 

“They don’t really have choices,” Capriolo said. “If they can’t get to a clinic in southwestern Ohio and if they don’t have the time or money or resources to get to a clinic somewhere out of the state they might look for alternatives such as at home abortions. Things that have proven to be more risky.”

Sara Miller, president of Miami University’s chapter of Students for Life, expressed support for the 2363 Act.

“There has been a lot of discussion and back-and-forth of what is constitutional and what isn’t,” Miller said, “but I think Texas has set a precedent.”

Several other states have recently introduced or passed legislation restricting access to abortion. Miller cites the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act as well as anti-abortion legislation passed in Texas, Alabama, Louisiana and Utah as serving as inspiration for the Ohio lawmakers proposing House Bill 480.

Religious beliefs are often cited as an argument against abortion, but Kaitlin Fisher, junior speech pathology and audiology major, points to the Bible as one of the reasons she is pro-choice.

“There’s only one passage in the Bible that mentions abortion and it gives directions on how to give an abortion,” Fisher said. “And there’s more passages that say you become a person when you first breathe air. So not until you are born are you human, and that is straight from the Bible.”

Fisher also expressed concern about the varying abortion legislation between the states. 

“I just feel like we’re going to get to a point in society where high school graduates and young people looking at grad schools are going to have to look at the reproductive rights of the states when deciding where to go to college,” Fisher said, “because college students are of reproductive age and not everyone has the money or the opportunity to travel out of state to get an abortion if they need one.”

House Bill 480 has not yet passed in Ohio and may face legal challenges in court if it does.