Washington DC, United States: As the upcoming election in Ohio draws near, the abortion debate has taken center stage, with groups opposing abortion placing their campaign focus on the term ‘partial-birth abortion.’

In Ohio, where the constitutional amendment known as Issue 1 is set to be voted on November 7, opponents of abortion are sounding the alarm about “partial-birth abortions.” This term, however, refers to a specific abortion procedure used in the later stages of pregnancy that has been illegal in the United States for more than 15 years. It’s important to note that “partial-birth abortion” is not a medical term; the correct medical term for the procedure is dilation and extraction (D&X).

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has expressed his opposition to the constitutional amendment (Issue 1) and has stated that it would permit “partial-birth abortion.” He explained that Ohio has had a long-standing law against this procedure, where the child is partially delivered, then killed, and finally fully delivered. The proposed constitutional amendment would override this existing state law.

However, legal experts have pointed out that the amendment, if approved by Ohio voters, will not override the federal ban on “partial-birth abortion.” According to constitutional scholars, changing the state’s constitution will have no impact on the federal ban’s applicability, and it would remain a federal crime for a doctor to violate that ban.

Ohio is the only state where voters will decide on the legality of abortion this November. This debate is significant because Ohio has become a testing ground for anti-abortion groups following a series of defeats since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a constitutional right to abortion. Abortion rights supporters are also planning to put similar questions before voters in several other states next year, making the issue a central focus in various elections.

Debate over ‘Partial-Birth Abortion’ term surfaces in Ohio as election day approaches | Credits: Google Images

The term “partial-birth abortion” has become a point of contention in the campaign. Anti-abortion groups argue that under the Biden Administration, the federal ban is inadequately enforced, describing the administration as “extreme pro-abortion.” However, supporters of Issue 1 claim that without its passage, the protections will be lacking at the state level.

Medical experts have criticized the use of the term “partial-birth abortion” in campaign messaging, calling it misleading and stigmatizing. They point out that it’s not a recognized medical term and does not describe an actual medical procedure, creating confusion around abortion later in pregnancy.

The history of the term in Ohio dates back to 1995 when the state passed the first ban on “partial-birth feticide.” The D&X procedure was introduced three years later by an Ohio physician, Martin Haskell, during an abortion practitioners conference. He presented it as a method to reduce hospital stays and provide a safer and less painful option for women compared to other methods.

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