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Ohio Bill Would Allow Impregnated People to Sue Over Unintended Pregnancy

After Roe v. Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court and Ohio's six-week abortion restriction went into effect, one state senator is looking for a new approach to support women and those who are capable of becoming pregnant.

To lessen the financial burden of childbirth, Senator Tina Maharath (D-Columbus) has sponsored a bill that would permit Ohioans to sue over unwanted pregnancy.

"The average cost of giving birth in our state is over $15,000, and can rise substantially if there are complications. Too often, this cost is solely the mother’s to bear, especially in the case of an unintended pregnancy," Maharath said in a statement. "However, the father shares equal responsibility for the pregnancy and it is only right that he pays equally for it."

Senate Bill 262 states "any person may bring a civil action against another person" who:

  1. Causes the person to have an unintended pregnancy, regardless of the circumstances;

  2. Aids or abets any other person in causing the person to have an unintended pregnancy, regardless of the circumstances.

The offending impregnator would be subject to fines of at least $5,000 as well as court costs and attorneys' fees if proven guilty. It was possible to file a civil lawsuit up to five years following conception.

Known as the "Heartbeat Bill," Ohio's recently passed six-week abortion ban restricts a patient's ability to end a pregnancy after the discovery of a "fetal heartbeat," sporadic electrical flutters that happen after approximately six weeks and before many individuals even realize they're pregnant (medical experts say this is not an actual heartbeat). Rape and incest have no exceptions; the only one that applies is when the pregnant person faces a risk of death.

In her statement, Maharath referred to a recent instance in which a victim of a rape who was young was compelled to travel from Ohio to Indiana in order to get an abortion and termed the prohibition "draconian."

"This law is already having devastating effects, as we learned that a 10-year-old rape victim had to travel out of state to receive an abortion," she said. “While this situation is tragic and should never have happened, I am relieved that she had the resources to leave Ohio to have a necessary medical procedure.”

S.B. 262 has not yet had a hearing in the state Senate, where Republicans hold a majority. Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis told The Columbus Dispatch the bill has "a zero percent chance of passing."

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