State Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) says her recent trip to El Salvador is strengthening her resolve to fight abortion bans in Ohio.
El Salvador’s abortion ban is thought to be the strictest in the world. Howse says she visited women serving time behind bars in El Salvador for miscarriages rather than deliberate abortions.
“I would say pregnancy emergencies that have been pushed under criminalization," Howse says.
Howse visited the country with leaders from five other states that have recently passed or are considering abortion restrictions. The progressive State Innovation Exchange’s Reproductive Leadership Council organized the trip, which also included lawmakers from Florida, Alabama, Arizona and Georgia.
“What we have seen is when there are bans on abortion, that anything that happens with a pregnancy, be it miscarriage, is suddenly open to criminal intent and criminal questioning,” said Eme Crawford of the Reproductive Leadership Council ahead of the trip.
Howse has been an outspoken opponent of recent abortion restrictions, including Ohio's six-week abortion ban that passed earlier this year. That bill, know informally as the “heartbeat” bill, has been put on hold by a federal court.
The Ohio legislature is considering three more bills, including a complete abortion ban that includes the death penalty. All are opposed by mainstream medical associations.