On April 11, Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 23 (the heartbeat bill) into law. Ohio’s legislation has been described by supporters and foes as the strictest abortion law in the nation. Ultimately, the constitutionality of any enacted heartbeat legislation will be decided down the road by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The legislation, which bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, makes it a 5th degree felony for a physician to perform an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The bill imposes additional fines on physicians, eliminates various legal protections for physicians, and encourages the use of more-sensitive medical technology to detect fetal heartbeats.
On March 19, the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians sent a letter to all 132 members of the Ohio General Assembly stating our opposition to any legislation that criminalizes the practice of medicine by subjecting physicians to felony charges and fines for performing a legal medical procedure. Enactment of such legislation is an unprecedented level of interference in the patient-physician relationship and the practice of medicine.
The OAFP follows the American Academy of Family Physicians’ policy on the criminalization of medical practice which states “the AAFP takes all reasonable and necessary steps to ensure that medical decision-making and treatment, exercised in good faith, does not become a violation of criminal law.”