Welp, it’s happened—another state has officially introduced a piece of legislation modeled after the repressive Texas abortion ban. On Tuesday, Ohio Republicans introduced House Bill 480, which attempts to ban abortion in the state by empowering individuals to file civil lawsuits seeking $10,000 or more against any Ohio residents that help a pregnant person get an abortion. Although the Ohio abortion ban uses the same enforcement mechanism as the Texas legislation, it actually goes a step further by attempting to ban all abortions in the state, without exemptions for rape and incest.
Under the proposed Ohio legislation, lawsuits can be filed against anyone who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion”—which also applies to paying for an abortion via insurance. Defendants in these suits wouldn’t be allowed to defend themselves with the claim that they believe HB480 is unconstitutional, nor would they be able to rely on a court decision allowing abortion if it was overruled in the future, even if the decision wasn’t overruled until after the abortion was performed.
“It’s an egregious assault on women, a dangerous attack on healthcare rights and an embarrassment for our state. Ohio Republicans want to control women, but we won’t be silent,” wrote House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes in a statement released on Tuesday. “Criminalizing care will disproportionately impact women of color, nonbinary people and those already at a disadvantage in our health and criminal justice system.”
This is far from the first time in recent years that Ohio has been the site of a heated debate over abortion. Just in 2019, the state legislature passed a (misleadingly named) “heartbeat bill” banning abortion after about six weeks. Although that particular law was blocked by a federal judge, Ohio Republicans’ relentless and repulsive attempts to restrict abortion access have unfortunately worked—just within the past decade, the number of abortion clinics in Ohio has dropped from 16 to 9. Currently, Republicans have a 64-35 majority in the Ohio House of Representatives, and more than half of Ohio House Republicans are cosponsors of HB480.
But regardless of whether the Ohio legislature passes this abortion ban, the fate of the Ohio law will likely be dependent on the Supreme Court’s impending decision about the constitutionality of the Texas legislation.