What could happen in Ohio if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

 abortion opponents (front row) and abortion rights supporters (dressed as Handmaids in back) listen to testimony on an abortion bill in a committee at the Ohio Legislature
abortion opponents (front row) and abortion rights supporters (dressed as Handmaids in back) listen to testimony on an abortion bill in a committee at the Ohio Legislature [Jo Ingles / Statehouse News Bureau]
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It appears the U.S. Supreme Court might be on its way to overturning the landmark decision that allowed abortion as a constitutional right throughout the country. A decision on a Mississippi case is expected this summer.

But Monday night brought stunning news, with Politico releasing a draft of the majority opinion striking down Roe v. Wade. It was written by Justice Samuel Alito and said in part: "Roe was egregiously wrong from the start."

Aaron Baer with the conservative group Center for Christian Virtue said he hopes the report is correct and the nation's highest court does indeed allow Roe to fall.

"The Supreme Court is signaling, the draft brief is signaling, that they are preparing to undo one of the greatest evils in American history by overturning Roe v. Wade," Baer said.

Baer and many constitutional experts point out that leaking this draft opinion to the press marks an unprecedented action and puts abortion as a top issue in the upcoming midterm elections.

"There were always efforts for people to elect folks who view the law the way they do. But the actual process of deciding a decision, of deliberating a decision, that's always been kept inside a black box, if you will," Baer said.

Kellie Copeland of Pro-Choice Ohio said many expected the court's decision could go this way, particularly with three newly-appointed conservative justices.

But she said it's important to remember this is not an official decision yet, abortion is still legal in Ohio and elsewhere, and she added people should continue to fight the decision.

“If legal access to abortion is lost in Ohio, we know that the people most impacted will be Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, disabled folks, trans people, minors, and low-income Ohioans. We must, and will continue to fight back. There will be tough days ahead. But we will not be defeated, because we will not surrender,” Copeland said.

Ohio has two companion bills under consideration that would ban abortion in Ohio if and when the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Those bills are co-sponsored by a third of the Ohio House and supported by most Republican state lawmakers.

If Ohio lawmakers pass those bills and abortion becomes illegal in the Buckeye State, it would be illegal to get medication or surgical abortions here with few exceptions.

But Copeland noted the landscape has changed since 1973, the year Roe v. Wade allowed abortions. She said medications are available that cause abortion so women could take those in the privacy of their own homes. But she fears the state could enact severe penalties for women who do that and those who help them.

Some Ohio women who want an abortion should Ohio ban it might choose to go to neighboring states. But a recent Ohio State University study shows that option will require financial resources.

OSU Epidemiology student Payal Chakraborty worked on the study and said, using federal transportation reimbursement rates for travel, it could cost Ohioans hundreds of dollars.

“Ohio’s neighboring states also have strict abortion policies. And the best-case post-Roe scenario is where Pennsylvania and Michigan do not ban abortion and, in this scenario, Ohioans would have to travel at most 279 miles one way and this translates to a cost of $163. And in the worst case, post-Roe scenario, Michigan and Pennsylvania will also ban abortion and in this case, Ohioans would have to drive at most 389 miles which translates to a cost of $198,” Chakraborty said.

Chakraborty said the study also shows minorities would be disproportionately impacted by an Ohio abortion ban because of the population distribution in the state and the fact that CDC data shows minorities living in urban areas use abortion more frequently.

Many studies have consistently shown about 70% of Americans and Ohioans believe abortion should be legal in at least some cases.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

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