A new bill in the Ohio Senate would protect unborn babies by banning all abortions as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

The Human Life Protection Act (Senate Bill 123), sponsored by state Sens. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, and Sandra O’Brien, R-Ashtabula, would ban abortions and impose felony charges on abortionists who violate the law. Exceptions would be allowed if the mother’s life is at risk. The bill would not ban birth control or miscarriage care.

On Wednesday, Roegner told the state Senate Health Committee that Ohio needs to stand for life, according to the Ohio Capital Journal.

“We have a decision to make: Are we going to join the states that say we’re going to keep the child comfortable until we decide what to do with them, or are we going to stand for life?” Roegner said. “Today, Ohio is saying we shall stand for life.”

Ohio Right to Life, which supports the legislation, pointed out that 12 other states already have similar laws in place. And with a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, communications director Allie Frazier said hope for unborn babies’ rights is stronger than ever.

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“This bill will allow Ohio to take the ultimate step to protect the most vulnerable,” Frazier said. “Let’s be clear: abortion victimizes women and it kills babies. We are ready for an Ohio where every woman in crisis is embraced with real support and where no baby’s life is considered disposable. Our time is now. We are going to end abortion.”

Ohio has a Republican-majority legislature, so the bill has a strong chance of passing. During the committee meeting, O’Brien explained why the bill is needed.

“Overturning Roe v. Wade does not make abortion illegal,” O’Brien said, according to the Journal. “It simply changes the venue of this question from nine unelected Supreme Court justices to the people to enact abortion policy through their elected state legislators.”

A few Democrat lawmakers criticized the legislation, claiming that a majority of Ohioans are not pro-life and questioning why there are no exceptions for rape or incest, the Journal reports.

One lawmaker, state Sen. Cecil Thomas, D-Cincinnati, suggested the pro-life legislation could lead to women dying from illegal back alley or self-induced abortions, the AP reports. However, Roegner responded that pro-life advocates do not want women or unborn babies to die.

Pro-abortion groups also slammed the legislation, claiming Ohio residents are on their side of the issue and arguing that an abortion ban would harm vulnerable women.

“To be clear – despite what was said during sponsor testimony – the majority of Ohioans (and Americans) support safe and legal abortion,” the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio responded. “This is not an anti-choice state, this is a gerrymandered state.”

Sometimes referred to as a “trigger bill,” the legislation would prepare Ohio for the day when the U.S. Supreme Court allows states to protect unborn babies from abortion again.

If the bill passes, Ohio would become the 12th state with such a law. In June, Texas became the 11th state.

In 1973, the Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe v. Wade, and instead forced states to legalize abortion on demand. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.

Right now, states still are prohibited from banning abortions before an unborn baby is viable. However, the Supreme Court recently agreed to consider a Mississippi law that directly challenges this precedent. The court is scheduled to hear the case Dec. 1.

Since Roe, nearly 63 million unborn babies have been legally aborted in the U.S. Polls consistently show that a strong majority of Americans support strong restrictions on abortion including heartbeat laws that protect unborn babies at their earliest stage of life.

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