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Ohio Abortion Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Note: While Ohio passed a new law significantly prohibiting most abortions (with an effective date of July 10, 2019), it will be subject to judicial review in state and/or federal courts. The courts can delay implementation of the law during the period of judicial review and can ultimately overturn the law if it's found to be unconstitutional.

The issue of abortion in the U.S. has been extremely controversial with passionate advocates on both sides of the spectrum. Federal law protects a woman's right to choose an abortion since the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973, finding a woman's choice to have an abortion to be a matter of privacy. Some states have limited access to abortion through legislation and other means, as pressure from both sides of the debate have made abortion a highly volatile area of law.

In April of 2019, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed one of the nation's most restrictive abortion bills into law, effectively banning nearly all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable. The so-called "heartbeat bill" is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade and is scheduled to take effect on July 10, 2019, although it will likely be tied up in the court system for some time.

Ohio Abortion Laws: The Basics

When you're faced with an unwanted pregnancy, the last thing you have time or energy for is deciphering complex legal texts. That's why we've provided "plain English" summaries of the law below. The basic provisions of Ohio's current abortion laws are listed in the following chart, along with summaries of the changes in Ohio abortion law that are yet to be enacted.

Statute

Ohio Revised Code, Section 2919.11, et seq.

Note: The major changes to Ohio's abortion laws under the Ohio Heartbeat Bill (House Bill 493) have not been enacted and therefore aren't published in the state's codes. Provisions under the pending law are listed after existing regulations.

Statutory Definition of Illegal Abortion

The following are considered illegal abortions in Ohio:

  • Failure to obtain informed consent;
  • Taking life of fetus born alive or failing to provide reasonable medical attention to same; or
  • After viability, purposeful termination of a human pregnancy by any person, including the mother herself, with the intention other than to produce a live birth or remove a dead fetus.

Under Pending Law:

No abortions may be performed on fetuses with a detectable heartbeat, usually around 6 weeks after conception. There are no exceptions for unwanted pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

Statutory Definition of Legal Abortion

Performed or induced by a physician who determines in good faith that the fetus is not viable or to prevent the death or serious bodily injury of the pregnant woman.

Under Pending Law:

Any abortion performed before a fetal heartbeat is detected (or if any of the above conditions apply).

Penalty for Unlawful Abortion

Violators guilty of unlawful abortion: first degree misdemeanor; second violation: fourth degree felony; purposely terminating child born alive or failing to take measures to save its life: guilty of abortion manslaughter, first degree felony.

Under Pending Law:

Physicians who perform abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable could face the following:

  • $20,000 fine from the State Medical Board of Ohio (and revocation or suspension of medical license); and
  • Fifth-degree felony charges, punishable by 6 to 12 months in prison and a $2,500 fine.
Consent Requirements Informed consent of mother; if mother is unemancipated minor, parental informed consent also required with 24 hrs. "actual notice"; court may authorize minor to consent without parental notification; other family members over 21 may issue consent if minor in danger of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse from parent; constructive notice (of at least 48 hrs.) by both certified and ordinary mail allowed if parents or family members cannot be reached with reasonable effort
Residency Requirements for Patients -
Physician Licensing Requirements Licensed physician

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

  • Ohio Law - Summaries of select Ohio statutes relating to criminal, family, injury, consumer, small business, and other areas of the law.
  • Official State Codes - Links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and DC.

Ohio Abortion Laws: Related Resources

Get Professional Legal Help With Your Ohio Abortion Concerns

State laws regarding the legality of and access to abortion have been in flux ever since the Roe v. Wade ruling protected the practice in all states, making it difficult to keep up with current law. An attorney experienced in such matters will know the law and its implications for your case. Get in touch with an experienced Ohio health care attorney today and get some peace of mind.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.