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The positions Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman are taking in the national debate on abortion

Advocates of legal abortion protest at the Ohio Statehouse on Saturday, May 7, 2022
Jo Ingles
Statehouse News Bureau
Advocates of legal abortion protest at the Ohio Statehouse on Saturday, May 7, 2022

Ohio’s two U.S. senators took opposing sides on a bill that would have legalized abortion nationwide.

That bill fell short of getting the votes it needed to pass out of the U.S. Senate earlier this week.

Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, and Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, also disagree on what they want to see in the eventual U.S. Supreme Court decision on abortion — which is expected next month.

Portman said he wasn't surprised the abortion legislation failed since a similar bill failed earlier this year. He called the bill "extreme" because it wouldn't allow restrictions on abortion that he supports.

Portman noted the bill did not allow parental notification requirements for minors to get abortions and would allow late-term abortions. Portman said he is shocked that the press was able to get the draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court that indicated the majority of justices would overturn Roe v. Wade. He said he hopes it will come to fruition, but he noted it’s a draft at this point.

“In theory justices go on and off these opinions and opinions change substantially in the two-month period that we have to work through it,” Portman said.

If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide, states would be allowed to ban it altogether. That would create a patchwork of places where abortions can be legally obtained.

Brown said he's hoping the nation's high court will not overturn Roe. He says polling shows a strong majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal. But if the court follows through with what was indicated in the leaked draft opinion, Brown said voters will have to take control at the ballot box by rejecting leaders who don't support abortion rights.

“If people get out in November and send a message to all of these legislators who think they should make decisions about women's health and not women and their families and their doctor, this is a fine opportunity to say we've had enough of them," Brown said.

Brown noted Ohio's legislature would be making the decision about whether the state would allow abortion. There are two bills under consideration right now that could be used to stop abortion in Ohio at the very point the high court allows the states to take that action. There's also the so-called heartbeat law.

It would ban abortions at around six weeks into a pregnancy at the point a fetal heartbeat is detected. Ohio Attorney General David Yost is looking into whether that law, which has been put on hold by a federal court, could go into effect immediately if Roe is overturned.

Contact Jo Ingles at
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