Ohio Republicans are wasting no time throwing their majority weight around the statehouse. But a small band of off-the-reservation Democrats have tossed a GOP-style grenade of their own in recent weeks.
State Representative Lorraine Fende (D-Willowick) was the lead sponsor of an anti-abortion bill that was rushed onto the schedule of the lame-duck session in December, as if to get a jump-start on the Republican takeover in January. At the time she said she prioritized the bill above the state budget, according to a memo intercepted by the pro-choice group NARAL Ohio.
Now Fende and her six co-sponsors — five Democrats and three Republicans — have reintroduced it as HB 7. It would require women seeking an abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy to jump through always popular government-erected hoops to prove the procedure’s necessity.
Apart from its political curiosity, the effort is a head-scratcher from a medical perspective too: Such late-term abortions make up only about 600 of the nearly 30,000 abortions performed in Ohio each year, according to the Ohio Department of Health. They are generally sought because the mother’s life or health would be threatened by carrying the pregnancy to term or because the fetus is dead or severely deformed — two instances that tend not to bolster the pro-life argument.
“She tried to offer it in the last session, but I stopped it,” says state Rep Armond Budish (D-Beachwood), who served as speaker of the House in that Democratic-controlled session. “You did not see a single abortion bill on the floor during my term as speaker. This time she introduced it without my knowledge, and it will probably come out of committee and go to the floor, and it will probably pass.”
And that won’t be all, he adds with a tone of resignation: “There are five other abortion bills that are likely to pass.”