by Tami Kamin Meyer
Proposed legislation in the Ohio House would allow child victims of sexual assault to receive money from the state’s Crime Victim Compensation Fund for health care treatment.
The Protect Child Victims Act would allow the attorney general to make emergency awards for out-of-state healthcare expenses, including abortions, for child sexual assault survivors.
“We should encourage the reporting of sexual offenses and support the child victims who desperately need our help. Ohio’s children need us to step up,” Rep. Tavia Galonski, D-Summit County and one of the two co-sponsors, said.
If passed as written and signed into law, the act would ensure emergency healthcare expenses relating to the crime, even if the care is administered outside Ohio and includes abortion care, is paid for. An emergency award is limited to $2,000, although victims may receive up to $50,000 from the fund, overall. If an emergency grant is made, it is deducted from the final amount the victim eventually receives from the state.
“Child rape victims should have access to the abortion care they need in Ohio. We should not further traumatize those precious little bodies and minds by forcing them to go through nine months of pregnancy, child birth, parenthood and all those health and safety risks that come with it, if they decide otherwise. As a mother, I can’t comprehend doing that to a child against their will, but sadly this is the unfortunate world Ohio’s out-of-touch Republican extremists want for them,” Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, said. “We are committed to removing any barrier that stands in the way of their healing, including the cost of travel and receiving an abortion after being assaulted.”
Although the Ohio General Assembly has enacted Senate Bill 23 (SB 23), Ohio’s 6-week abortion ban, a Hamilton County judge recently issued a temporary restraining order blocking the implementation of Ohio’s “Heartbeat Law,” which bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks.
The Ohio Victims of Crime Compensation program is administered by the Ohio attorney general’s Office and funded by criminal fines paid by defendants as part of their sentence, not taxpayer’s dollars. The fund is designed to help victims with out-of-pocket expenses stemming from the crime.
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