This procedure is prohibited in the United States. Why is it a hot topic in the fight over Ohio’s abortion amendment?

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — With Election Day closing inAnti-abortion groups seeking to generate opposition to a reproductive rights measure in Ohio are sending strong messages about a term for an abortion procedure that was once used later in pregnancy, but It has not been legal in the US for over 15 years.

In ads, debates and public statements, the opposition campaign and top Republicans have increasingly referred to “partial-birth abortions” as an imminent threat if voters approve the constitutional amendment on November 7. term for a procedure known as dilation and extraction, or D&X, which is already banned at the federal level.

“It would allow a partial-birth abortion,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recently told reporters while explaining his opposition to the constitutional amendment, known as Number 1.

“For many years, in Ohio and in this country, we have had a law that said that a partial-birth abortion (in which the child is partially born and then killed and finally born) was illegal in Ohio,” the governor continued. “This constitutional amendment would nullify that.”

Constitutional scholars say that’s not true and that the amendment would not overturn the existing federal ban if Ohio voters approve it.

“Therefore, changing our constitution will not in the least affect the enforceability of the federal ban on partial-birth abortion,” said Dan Kobil, a law professor at Capital University in Columbus, who supports abortion rights. “It would be a federal crime for a doctor to violate that prohibition.”

That’s because the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution requires that federal laws take precedence over state laws, said Jonathan Entin, professor emeritus of law at Case Western State University.

“If federal law prohibits a particular technique, then it will take precedence over a state law that may be inconsistent,” he said.

Ohio is the only state this November where voters will decide whether abortion should be legal. But the debate does not occur in isolation. The state has been used as a campaign testing ground by anti-abortion groups after a chain of defeats from the US Supreme Court tipped over a constitutional right to procedure. And next year, abortion rights supporters plan to put the issue before voters in several more statesensuring that the topic will be central to the races. up and down on the ballot.

A D&X procedure involved dilating the woman’s cervix and then pulling the fetus through the cervix, feet first to the neck. The head was then drilled and the skull was hollowed out and compressed to allow the fetus to pass through the dilated cervix. Before the federal ban, it was used for both abortions and miscarriages in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

DeWine was serving in the United States Senate when the Partial Birth Abortion Prohibition Law it was passed in 2003. He voted in favor of the ban, which declared a “moral, medical and ethical consensus” that the procedure was “horrific and inhumane.” President George W. Bush signed the measure into law with DeWine at his side.

The ban was largely suspended while a constitutional challenge played. The Supreme Court of the United States in 2007 rejected arguments against the law and confirmed its application in all 50 states.

When asked why the governor suggested that a federal law he supported would not apply if Ohio changes its constitution, spokesman Dan Tierney said DeWine is basing his position on provisions in the U.S. Constitution that prevent the federal government from regulating conduct. which have no effect on interstate commerce. Kobil acknowledged that argument, but said it is “almost certain to fail” if tested, given that the Supreme Court has already declared the ban constitutional.

DeWine is not the only high-ranking elected Republican in the state to warn that the procedure would be revived if the amendment passes on November 7.

In a memo earlier this month, Republican Attorney General Dave Yost said state laws banning D&X abortions and other procedures, non-intact dilation and evacuation, or D&E, the most common second trimester method, “would be invalidated and these abortions would be allowed” if the amendment is approved. The Ohio Senate’s Republican supermajority passed a resolution that said something similar.

Case Western’s Entin said that “to the extent that the Ohio laws you’ve discussed are also covered by federal law, it doesn’t matter,” because procedures banned at the federal level would still be illegal.

Kelsey Pritchard, state public affairs director for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, whose political arm is a major funder of the campaign opposing the amendment, said the federal ban “has no enforcement” under an administration of Biden that he described as “extremely pro.” -abortion.”

“If it’s not enforced, if it’s not enforced, then the protections should be at the state level,” argued spokesperson Amy Natoce of Protect Women Ohio, the No. 1 opposition campaign. “Of course, if Issue 1 passes, it won’t we will have those protections.”

Mae Winchester, a Cleveland-based maternal-fetal medicine specialist, said the use of the term in campaign messages about the amendment is misleading.

“’Partial birth abortion’ is a made-up term that only serves to create confusion and stigmatize abortion later in pregnancy,” she said. “It is not a procedure that is described in any medical literature, so it is not considered a medical term or even an actual medical procedure.”

Ohio passed the nation’s first ban on what its lawmakers then called “partial birth feticide” in 1995, just three years after Ohio doctor Martin Haskell debuted the D&X procedure during a conference of abortion practitioners. He promoted it as a way to avoid spending the night in the hospital and as safer and less painful for women than other methods.

Protect Women Ohio has invoked Haskell’s legacy in one of its ads. It shows a picture of Haskell and describes the procedure he pioneered as “painful for mother and baby.” The voiceover then calls for a no vote on the amendment “so that people like Dr. Haskell cannot perform painful ‘late-term’ abortions.”

The ad does not draw the distinction between “partial-birth” and “late-term” abortions (both non-medical terms coined by abortion advocates) nor does it reference the federal ban.

Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said that because of the protections provided to people and abortion providers in the amendment, “the ad withstands any scrutiny.”

Haskell retired from active practice two years ago. He declined to comment. But he has donated to the main group supporting the constitutional amendment, Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights.

Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland called talk of “late-term” and “partial-birth” abortions a scare tactic.

“Issue 1 allows for clear restrictions on post-viability abortion that protect the health and safety of patients,” he said. “These situations, when a woman needs an abortion late in pregnancy, are incredibly rare and heartbreaking for families.”

No abortions of any type have been performed after 25 weeks of gestation in Ohio since 2018 and only four have been recorded since 2013, according to Statistics compiled by the state Department of Health. Abortions between 21 and 24 weeks of gestation, a period that encompasses the outer limit of current Ohio law, totaled 576, or 0.6% of the total, during that time.

Pritchard, of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, attributed the low numbers to the state’s existing abortion restrictions.


Associated Press writer Christine Fernando in Chicago contributed to this report.

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