Ohio passes law limiting abortions for minors

[JURIST] Ohio Governor John Kasich [official website] on Friday signed [press release, PDF] into law House Bill 63 [text and materials], creating further restrictions on minors if they seek an abortion [JURIST news archive] without parental consent. The new law puts several conditions in place, advancing the former law of making a minor receive a judge's consent to have an abortion without parental notification. Now, judges may only permit abortion in cases where they have "clear and convincing evidence" that the abortion is in the best interest of the young woman after a hearing on the record. The hearing must be held within five days after petitioning the court for an abortion:

At the hearing, the court shall hear do all of the following: Hear evidence relating to the emotional development, maturity, intellect, and understanding of the minor; the nature, possible consequences, and alternatives to the abortion; and any other evidence that the court may find useful in determining whether the minor should be granted the right to consent to the abortion or whether the abortion is in the best interests of the minor; Specifically inquire about the minor's understanding of the possible physical and emotional complications of abortion and how the minor would respond if the minor experienced those complications after the abortion; Specifically inquire about the extent to which anyone has instructed the minor on how to answer questions and on what testimony to give at the hearing.
The law also requires the minor to meet with judges in their home county or an adjacent county, rather than the county they are having the abortion in, a stipulation some think may face a constitutional challenge [Columbus Dispatch report]. Ohio Right to Life [advocacy website] stated previous requirements amounted to a rubber stamp for abortions [press release] commending Kasich for signing the bill and called he and the state Congress the "most pro-life Governor and General Assembly in our state's history." Since Kasich took office, Ohio has passed three abortion restrictions, and has had a total of ten bills introduced on the subject. NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio [advocacy website] criticized the new law [press release], noting, "Governor Kasich must not be very proud of signing this dangerous bill into law because he did so on a Friday afternoon during the final hours of the election season."

Kasich signed into law a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks [JURIST report] in July, the last of several pieces of anti-abortion legislation in the state. That legislation requires doctors to determine the viability of the fetus and seek a second opinion as to whether the child is capable of surviving outside of the womb. In the event that the fetus is viable, an abortion would only be made available if the woman faced "death or a substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function." In June, the Ohio House of Representatives [official website] voted 54-43 to approve legislation that would prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable [JURIST report], which could occur as early as six weeks into the pregnancy. The month before, a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio [official website] upheld an Ohio law that limits the use of the "abortion pill," overturning a 2006 injunction [JURIST reports]. The law requires that the use of the pill, RU-486, conform with federal guidelines, which currently do not allow the pill to be used after seven weeks of pregnancy.

 

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