Access to Ohio’s laws, rules and constitution and Ohio Revised Code is available from the state of Ohio’s web site.
NOTE: This is only a brief summary of Ohio statutes, administrative regulations and caselaw on selected life issues. In addition to state law, there are federal laws and rules as well as local ordinances and regulations.
Abortion, Fetal Development and Infanticide
“RIGHT TO CHOOSE ABORTION” – (Ohio Constitution, Section 1, Article 1)
In Preterm Cleveland v. Voinovich, 627 N.E. 2d 570 (the case which found Ohio’s Woman’s Right to Know Law constitutional), the Tenth Appellate District Court said: “Although Ohio recognizes a common law right of privacy, Housh v. Peth (1956), 165 Ohio St. 35, it is not necessary to find a constitutional right of privacy in order to reach the conclusion that the choice of a woman whether or not to bear a child is one of the liberties guaranteed by Section 1, Article 1, Ohio Constitution.” This was not an Ohio Supreme Court decision, and therefore not the final word on the interpretation of the Ohio Constitution. However, it probably means that, when Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, any attempt in Ohio to prohibit abortion would be short-circuited until this issue is resolved.
Abortions are legal in Ohio throughout all nine months of pregnancy. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court decision which found Ohio’s post-viability laws unconstitutional. Women’s Medical Professional Corp. v. Voinovich, 130 F 3d 187.
PARTIAL-BIRTH ABORTION (O.R.C. 2919.15)
Ohio was the first state to pass a ban on partial birth abortions in 1995, but his law was declared unconstitutional by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in 1997. In May of 2000, Governor Taft signed a new law passed by the Ohio legislature. On December 17, 2003, the majority of a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit reversed a district court rulign and held that this statute was constitutional (Women’s Medical Professional Corp. v. Taft, 353 F.3d 436). The full 6th Circuit denied a petition to rehear the case. An appeal to the Supreme Court was denied, and the law is now in effect in Ohio. Ohio’s new law does include a health exception approved by the Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and it does define partial-birth abortion more narrowly than the Nebraska law which was struck down in 2000.
PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT – (R.C. 2919.12)
An unemancipated minor under 18 may not obtain an abortion until 24 hours after one of her parents or guardians has been notified unless she obtains a court order. (A parental consent statute was signed into law on 1998 but was challenged by Cincinnati Women’s Services, Inc. v. Voinovich. A temporary injunction against the law is now in effect.
INFORMED CONSENT – (R.C. 2317.56)
Prior to an abortion, the doctor must inform the woman of the nature of the procedure, the medical risks of abortion & childbirth, & the probable gestational age of the child. Twenty-four hours before the abortion, the woman must be told the name of the abortionist and be given state-printed materials describing the child and listing agencies which can help with her pregnancy & childbirth. (A law which requires that the doctor meet with the woman in person at least 24 hours before the abortion was passed in 1998, but this is being challenged in Cincinnati Women’s Services, Inc. v. Voinovich C-1-98-289.)
FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE – (R.C. 4731.91)
No person may be required to participate in medical procedures which result in abortion.
ABORTION MANSLAUGHTER – (O.R.C. 2919.13)
Prohibits purposely taking the life of or not taking measures required by medical judgment to preserve the life of a child who is alive when removed from the woman’s uterus.
While Ohio does not have a specific fetal homicide statute, all of Ohio’s homicide and assault statutes prohibit actions which kill or injure another person’s unborn child at any stage of pregnancy. There are exceptions for legal abortions and actions by the mother.
PUBLIC FUNDING – (O.R.C. 124.85)
Prohibits the use of tax money to pay for state employees’ insurance coverage for nontherapeutic abortions. (O.R.C. 5105.55) State and local funds cannot be used for an abortion, except to preserve the life or physical or mental health of the woman. Administrative Code 5101:3-17-01 prohibits using public funds for abortion except in the case of rape, incest, or to preserve the woman’s life.
PHYSICIAN REQUIREMENT -(O.R.C. 2919.11)
Abortion is the practice of medicine or surgery for purposes of O.R.C. 4731.41, which means that only licensed physicians may perform abortions.
FETAL EXPERIMENTATION/SALE – (O.R.C. 2919.14)
Prohibits experimenting on or selling the “product of conception” which is aborted. The sale of “baby parts” is thus prohibited in Ohio.
FORCED ABORTION – (O.R.C. 2701.15)
Prohibits any court from ordering a woman to have an abortion. (O.R.C. 5105.55) No person may be ordered to obtain an abortion by any public agency. Refusal to obtain an abortion cannot be used to cause the loss of public assistance or other rights or privileges.
CLINIC REGULATIONS – (Admin. Code sections 3701-83-01 to 22)
The Ohio Department of Health rules regarding “Ambulatory Surgical Facilities” create personnel and staffing requirements, service standards including informed consent, building and site requirements, medical records requirements and allow inspections. (Admin. Code section 3701-47) Public Health Council regulations cover human fetal disposal and post-abortion procedures which only apply to abortions performed after 14 weeks and a reporting requirement which applies to all abortions.
ASSISTED SUICIDE (O.R.C. 3795.01 – 3795.03
Under a law which became effective on March 24, 2003, assisting a suicide is against public policy of Ohio. An injunction may be issued against any person who is preparing to assist a suicide, in the course of assisting a suicide or who has assisted a suicide.
POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR HEALTH CARE – (O.R.C. 1337.11 – 1337.17)
Ohio has a durable power of attorney for health care law, which permits an individual to appoint another person to make medical decisions in the event the patient is unable to do so.
LIVING WILL – (O.R.C. 2133.02)
Ohio law permits an adult to create a declaration (living will) indicating his or her wishes regarding the use or continuation or withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment when, in a terminal condition or permanently unconscious state and can no longer make informed decisions. O.R.C. 2133.08 and 2133.09 permits a guardian or certain relatives to authorize the use or continuation or withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment when the patient is in a terminal condition or permanently unconscious state, can no longer make informed decisions and does not have a declaration or durable power of attorney for health care.