Our Position on Incremental Legislation:
Many pro-life advocates disagree about whether or not to support pro-life legislation which does not completely ban all abortion, but instead provides some incremental approach to limiting abortion. The reality is that we are doing both. The decisions of the United State Supreme Court to make abortion legal through the Roe v Wade ruling in 1973 and subsequent rulings since make it impossible for states to ban abortion completely since it took it out of the jurisdiction of the states to do anything but regulate the practice of abortion, and allows them to ban it only after the point of viability in an unborn child's gestation (roughly starting at 20 weeks). There have been many attempts to overturn the Roe v Wade and subsequent decisions, but the current makeup of the Supreme Court has prevented these attempts from being successful.
Right to Life of Northeast Ohio is selective in the pro-life legislation that we do support. We WILL NOT support any incremental legislation that will ban or place limits on abortion if it has exceptions in it for the children conceived through rape or incest, or exceptions for children with fetal abnormalities/disabilities (such as the national Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act). In those cases, we push for the removal of the exception language.
We do recognize that all incremental legislation is flawed in that it does not save the lives of the unborn before 20 weeks, and this is heartbreaking. At the same time, we strongly disagree with those who state that incremental legislation is only regulating the murder of unborn children. We KNOW that incremental legislation that we have supported has saved lives, and it has lessened a portion of the evils or harmful effects of that standing unjust law that is legal abortion. We have listened and disagree with those who say that incremental legislation is unprincipled and against God's law, because we have seen those lives who God has helped us to save because of the incremental legislation. We believe that EVERY child has a God given right to life, and we cannot stand by and let them ALL die when we know that we can save some of them while we are hard at work trying to save them all.
"Passing incremental legislation often represents the most sensible approach to dealing with poorly crafted or morally problematic pieces of legislation. In the absence of needed votes to overturn harmful legislation altogether, it is still possible to make significant progress in limiting the damage that these laws can do through the patient spadework of incremental legislative revision. This is done with an eye towards one day being able to rescind or abrogate the unjust law altogether." Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D (To read the full article where this statement was made, click here.)
The other reality is that legislation is only a small part of our mission at Right to Life of Northeast Ohio. By IRS non-profit rules and regulations, we are limited in the amount of time, energy and money that we are permitted to spend on political or legislative activities. Our main focus is on education and advocacy in order to bring about a positive change to the culture of life. We believe that we must change the hearts and minds of abortion minded individuals through these education and advocacy efforts so that even if we are unsuccessful in our legislative efforts, we will be successful in helping to change the culture so that people will understand the evil of abortion and all other threats to human life and that abortion clinics will close because there will be no customers. This is where the bulk of our time and energy goes, and where we have seen the most positive changes occurring with our mission.
The following is a list of some of the legislation we are watching being considered both in the Ohio and national legislatures:
STATE OF OHIO
SPECIAL NOTE: The 131st general assembly of the state of Ohio adjourned on January 2, 2017. Any legislation introduced during the two years of the 131st general assembly that did not get passed by either the house or the senate is now dead, and must be re-introduced into the 132nd general assembly which started on January 3, 2017 and will conclude on January 2, 2019. As new legislation which affects life issues is introduced, we will update this page.
The following were legislative initiatives or prospective legislation affecting pro-life advocacy that were considered by the state of Ohio during the 2015/16 131st general assembly:
HEARTBEAT BILL — HB69 would generally prohibit an abortion of an unborn human individual with a detectable heartbeat and would create the Joint Legislative Committee on Adoption Promotion and Support. This bill passed the House on 3/25/15 and moved to the senate where it did not progress. In December, a heartbeat amendment was added to HB493, a child abuse reporting bill. The entire bill passed the house but because the heartbeat amendment was subject to a line item veto because of the bill containing budget appropriations, it was vetoed by the governor. This was probably due to the probable unconstitutionality of the bill since it defies a very immoral and horrible federal law and stood little chance of being enacted or upheld by the courts. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio remains neutral on this bill. For more detailed information, please contact RTLNEO Executive Director Denise Leipold.
PAIN CAPABLE UNBORN CHILD PROTECTION ACT — SB127 prohibits abortions in Ohio at the point at which pre-born babies can feel pain, which is at 20 weeks gestation (if not earlier). This bill does NOT have any exceptions for rape and incest like the federal bill does. SB127 passed the senate on June 24, 2015, passed the house on December 8, 2016 and was signed into law by the governor. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio supported this bill. Read Executive Director Denise Leipold's testimony to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee about this bill by clicking here.
DOWN SYNDROME NON-DISCRIMINATION ACT — HB135 prohibits abortions from taking place on the basis of a Down's Syndrome diagnosis. This bill was introduced in the house where it died at the end of the 2015/16 legislative session. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio supported this bill.
ABORTION INDUCING DRUGS SAFETY ACT — HB255 limits the use of abortion-inducing drugs to those labeled expressly for such purpose by the FDA. Currently, Mifeprex (mifepristone) is the only such drug labeled for the purpose of inducing abortion in the United States. Although the combination of mifepristone and misoprostol is still the most common drug regimen used in chemical abortions, Ohio has seen a significant increase in the number of chemical abortions using other drugs like methotrexate, a drug labeled for use as a chemotherapy agent. This bill was introduced on 6/10/2015 and died at the end of the 2015/16 legislative session. Because there should be no room for compromise when administering drugs out of context that can be and are harmful to a woman's health, Right to Life of Northeast Ohio supported this bill.
DEFUND PLANNED PARENTHOOD — HB294 requires that the Department of Health ensure that state funds and certain federal funds are not used either to perform or promote elective abortions or to contract or affiliate with any entity that performs or promotes elective abortions. The Ohio legislature did essentially defund Planned Parenthood through the biennial state budget bill in 2013 by re-prioritizing the distribution of Title X funds. This bill addresses the other funding streams that Planned Parenthood may receive. This bill has passed both the house and senate and takes full effect on May23, 2016. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio testified in support of this bill. PLEASE NOTE that this bill does not remove ALL funding from Planned Parenthood in Ohio. The Governor as the ability by executive order to cancel the state's medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood from where they get the bulk of their funding. He has so far refused to do this in spite of the pressure from pro-life advocates across the state. UPDATE: U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett issued a permanent restraining order on August 12, 2016 to block this law from taking effect.. Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio sued in federal court May 11, arguing the state efforts to defund the organization punished the organization for advocating and participating in a constitutionally protected right. Barrett's decision now opens the door for more than a million dollars of Ohio taxpayer money to be given to abortion providers. In reality, there are hundreds of comprehensive health care options in Ohio (Planned Parenthood has 28 centers) available to families that do not provide abortions, and Judge Barrett has decided to give the money to the one entity that performs abortions despite a legally passed law to prevent this.
RESTRICT ACCESS TO ABORTION CLINICS — HB408 would criminalize impeding access to reproductive health care and to create a cause of action for harassment or intimidation of one or more employees of an abortion facility and creates a "buffer zone" that restricts prolife activity on public property near the clinic, restricting the right of free speech. To read a long but excellent explanation of this bill written by Greater Columbus Right to Life, click here. This bill was introduced on 12/7/15 and died at the end of the 2015/16 legislative session. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio opposed this bill.
TIGHTENING RESTRICTION ON THE SALE OF FETAL TISSUE— SB203 The sale of fetal tissue from an abortion is already illegal in Ohio, but Senate Bill 203 also bans the exchange of money for the storage, preservation, transfer and any other services related to the product of human conception. Violating these restrictions constitutes abortion trafficking, which is currently a misdemeanor of the first degree. Senate Bill 203 would increase the penalty associated with the offense to include a prison term of up to ten years and a fine equal to at least twice the amount of the profit received. These penalties are identical to those prescribed for similar offenses under federal law. This bill is currently in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee where it died at the end of the 2015/16 legislative session. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio supported this bill.
UNBORN CHILD DIGNITY ACT— SB254 This legislation would require that aborted fetal remains be treated humanely following an abortion. The legislation is two-pronged. The first part requires that aborted children's remains be either given earthly burial or cremation. The second part is Unborn Dignity Informed Consent, which increases informed consent by requiring full disclosure to women pursuing abortions of their options for the aborted baby's treatment. SB254 passed in the Senate on and has been introduced into the house where it died at the end of the 2015/16 legislative session. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio supported this bill. To read the testimony of RTLNEO Executive Director Denise Leipold in support of SB254, CLICK HERE.
MOLST: MEDICAL ORDERS FOR LIFE SUSTAINING TREATMENT — SB165 gradually eliminates Ohio's DNR protocols and replaces it with the MOLST, which is a medical order to receive or not receive care that could help you or save your life before you even have a problem that requires treatment. In other words, the MOLST order is signed not when you need it but before you need it. The potential for abuse of this form is high, and it could promote euthanasia and assisted suicide. SB165 passed the senate on 5-4-16 and has been introduced into the House where it died at the end of the 2015/16 legislative session. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio OPPOSED this bill. To read our executive director's description on why we oppose MOLST, click here. To read an analysis of SB165 from the Patient's Rights Council, CLICK HERE. To read the comments of the Catholic Medical Association against MOLST type forms, CLICK HERE To read the comments of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition against POLST, CLICK HERE.
PALLIATIVE CARE BILL— HB470 This legislation is concerned with the palliative care of patients in hospitals, nursing homes and post discharge. It came onto our radar in December 2016 because pro-life coalition members were able to get an amendment added that made it a third degree felony for anyone knowingly causing another to commit or attempt to commit suicide by either providing the physical means to do so or participating in a physical act by which the person commits or attempts to commit suicide. This bill passed on December 8, 2016 and was signed into law by the governor. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio supported this bill.
INFANT MORTALITY BILL— SB332 Among other things, this bill provides for the implementation of recommendations made y the Commission on Infant Mortality. Ohio currently has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country and this bill is to establish the collection of data which can be used to more accurately determine the causes. Since we can establish a direct correlation between infant mortality and prior abortions, we have been trying to get the commission to collect data on prior abortions to include in their process. The bill did pass on December 6, but did not include anything about the collection of prior abortion data. We are still moving forward to try and get this a part of the process.
The following are some of the legislative initiatives or prospective legislation affecting pro-life advocacy being considered by the federal government during the 115th congress:
DEFUND PLANNED PARENTHOOD ACT — HR354 prohibits, for a one-year period, the availability of federal funds for any purpose to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., or any of its affiliates or clinics, unless they certify that the affiliates and clinics will not perform, and will not provide any funds to any other entity that performs, an abortion during such period. This restriction does not apply in cases of rape or incest or where a physical condition endangers a woman's life unless an abortion is performed. HR354 is currently in the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio does not actively support this bill unless the rape and incest exceptions are removed.
PROTECT FUNDING FOR WOMEN'S HEALTH CARE ACT — S241 prohibits federal funding of Planned Parenthood Federation of America or its affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, or clinics. It further states that State and county health departments, community health centers, hospitals, physicians offices, and other entities currently provide, and will continue to provide, health services to women. Such health services include relevant diagnostic laboratory and radiology services, well-child care, prenatal and postpartum care, immunization, family planning services including contraception, sexually transmitted disease testing, cervical and breast cancer screenings, and referrals. Many such entities provide services to all persons, regardless of the person’s ability to pay, and provide services in medically underserved areas and to medically underserved populations. All funds no longer available to Planned Parenthood will continue to be made available to other eligible entities to provide women’s health care services. HR241 is currently in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio supports this bill.
PRENATAL NONDISCRIMINATION ACT (PRENDA)— HR147 imposes criminal penalties on anyone who knowingly or knowingly attempts to: (1) perform an abortion knowing that the abortion is sought based on the sex, gender, color or race of the child, or the race of a parent; (2) use force or the threat of force to intentionally injure or intimidate any person for the purpose of coercing a sex-selection or race-selection abortion; (3) solicit or accept funds for the performance of such an abortion; or (4) transport a woman into the United States or across a state line for the purpose of obtaining such an abortion. HR354 is currently in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. Right to Life of Northeast Ohio supports this bill.
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