COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio doctors who fail to give medical care in the extremely rare circumstance when a baby is born alive following an abortion attempt would face criminal penalties under legislation that cleared the Republican-run Ohio House Wednesday.
The bill also would require physicians to report cases of babies born alive after abortions or attempted abortions, and bar abortion clinics from working with doctors who teach at state-funded hospitals and medical schools.
Abortion rights advocates criticized the bill as an attack on a woman’s legal right to the procedure, and said the bill would likely shut down some of the state’s last operational clinics.
“Right now, we’re at a crisis point for abortion access in Ohio and across the country,” Kersha Deibel CEO of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region, said in a statement. “Anti-abortion politicians have made it their job to bury abortion providers under so many TRAP laws that providing and accessing essential health care to Ohioans has become an obstacle course.”
TRAP stands for “targeted restrictions on abortion providers.”
Mary Parker, director of legislative affairs at Ohio Right to Life, the state’s oldest and largest anti-abortion group, praised lawmakers for passing the measure, which heads next to Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, an abortion opponent.
“This vital anti-infanticide legislation will ensure that a baby who survives a botched abortion receives life-saving care,” Parker said in a statement.
The measure was sponsored by Republican state Sens. Terry Johnson, a retired doctor, and Steve Huffman, a practicing physician. It cleared the Ohio Senate in October.
Huffman has called the bill “another step in our continued commitment to uphold the sanctity of human life.”
Ohio law already punishes doctors who don’t take efforts to save the lives of babies born alive after abortions. The bill expanded the law by including a new crime of “purposely failing to take measures to preserve the health or life of a child.”
In cases of procedures in abortion clinics, doctors must provide care to a baby born alive, call 911 and arrange transportation to a hospital, under the proposal.
During testimony, opponents testified that requiring invasive life-saving measures in such cases stands to steal the precious final moments from mothers and infants.
Democrats called the bill a redundant attack on abortion rights, noting doctors are already required to provide appropriate medical care in all situations.
Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers vetoed a similar measure last week.
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