As the country commemorates the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the focus shifts to Ohio as a polarizing abortion battleground.
On Tuesday, the state moved into the final stages to close one of the two abortion clinics that remain in the Cincinnati area.
The decision to close the Lebanon Road abortion clinic in Sharonville came from a long sought-after Republican push, even though Ohio's abortion rates have slightly increased, according to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). The ODH first rejected in October an appeal from the Lebanon Road Surgery Center to remain open. A final rejection now means that the clinic, located in the county with the third highest abortion rate in the state, will close on Feb. 4.
The order to close the Lebanon Road clinic came from failure to meet medical standards and for operating without a valid transfer agreement with an area hospital, which became a requirement for abortion clinics following recent changes to laws in Ohio that were built into the budget passed in June. The Lebanon Road facility is a "Ambulatory Surgical Facility" meaning that they are not a full-service facility. Abortion clinics must have this type of agreement with a hospital if the clinic is not full-service. The requirement exists in case there are complications with their patients they are unable to handle.
Among the list of restrictions recently enacted, was a requirement for doctors to check for a detectable fetal heartbeat and that he or she must share the information with the pregnant woman before she consents to an abortion.
The yet-to-be-passed "heartbeat bill" has divided Ohio's anti-abortion community. The bill would ban abortions after the first detectable heartbeat, typically after six weeks. Abortion is legal in every state in the U.S. up until five weeks, however many states have strict rules basically outlawing the procedure.
Political brawls have stemmed from the stance on abortion for nearly half a century. The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion, reached its 41-year anniversary Wednesday attracting protesters and supporters alike to march on Washington, D.C. Seventy students and faculty members of Seton High School attended the March for Life in our nation's capital. For those who wanted to protest but couldn't make it to D.C., Cincinnatians mirrored the march at the Auburn Avenue location of Planned Parenthood.
Ohio, with a Republican Governor and a GOP-controlled General Assembly, has set fourth a number of abortion restrictions in recent years. More than a dozen clinics currently open could be down to half of that by the end of the 2014 following the closure of three clinics state-wide in 2013.
In 2012, Ohio implemented 16 restrictions on abortion procedures, according to the Remapping Debate.
So what is changing in 2014?
According to the Guttmacher Institute, the following restrictions on abortion were in effect as of Jan. 1, 2014 in Ohio:
- A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided. Counseling must be provided in person and must take place before the waiting period begins, thereby necessitating two separate trips to the facility.
- Health plans that will be offered in the state’s health exchange that will be established under the federal health care reform law can only cover abortion in cases when the woman's life is endangered, rape or incest.
- Abortion is covered in insurance policies for public employees only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
- Medication abortion must be provided using the FDA protocol, thereby preventing the use of a more common, simpler evidence-based regimen.
- The parent of a minor must consent before an abortion is provided.
- Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
- Most women will undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion; since the provider must test for the fetal heartbeat. The woman will be offered the option to view the image.
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