The “heartbeat bill,” as it is being referred to in various press outlets, would make it a fifth-degree felony if a physician performs an abortion when a heartbeat is heard, except where the abortion would kill or severely incapacitate the pregnant woman. Ohio governor John Kasich still has the option to veto the bill, but if he does nothing or signs it, it will become law unless something else stops it. Apparently those Ohio Republicans felt such legislation could be passed in the wake of declarations to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Ohio lawmakers passed a bill late Tuesday that would prohibit abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected — at around six weeks, before many women realize they are pregnant.
If Gov. John Kasich (R) signs the bill, it would pose a direct challenge to Supreme Court decisions that have found that women have a constitutional right to abortion until the point of viability, which is typically pegged around 24 weeks. Similar bills have been blocked by the courts. Because of this, even many antiabortion advocates have opposed such measures.
But some Ohio Republicans said they were empowered to support the bill because of President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 high court decision that legalized abortion nationally.
Ohio legislators passed a “heartbeat bill” Wednesday that bans abortion after a fetus’s heartbeat can be heard on average around six weeks into a pregnancy. The bill has no exception for cases of rape or incest.
The bill was tacked on at the last minute to another bill addressing child abuse. It was approved in the Republican-dominated state House and Senate, and will now move on to Republican and anti-abortion Gov. John Kasich’s desk. He will sign or veto it within the next 10 days.
“A hallmark of lame duck” a term used to describe sessions of lawmakers that sit between when elections are over and the new lawmakers take office “is a flood of bills, including bills inside of bills, and we will closely examine everything we receive,” said Kasich’s press secretary, Emmalee Kalmbach.
The American Civil Liberties Union told BuzzFeed News that they are preparing to fight back against ban, should it become law. “if Governor Kasich signs that bill, we will absolutely challenge that in federal court,” Mike Brickner, senior policy director of ACLU Ohio, said. “We believe that it is unconstitutional.”
Many women do not know they are pregnant until they have missed two periods, which can often be around eight weeks. Others may find out before the six-week mark, but might still be unable to get an abortion in time because there are a lack of clinics in Ohio and state laws require women wait 24 hours between an informational appointment about abortion and having the procedure done.
Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper, a practitioner of clinical medicine and member of Physicians for Reproductive Health, told BuzzFeed News that the bill was “extreme” and “dangerous.”
“We have evidence that shows that banning abortion does not make it go away it just increases the chances that people will seek care in potentially unsafe environments,” Horvath-Cosper said.
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, told BuzzFeed News Wednesday that he believed the bill had “been shown to be unconstitutional.”
“It’d be nice if the legislature would actually be doing something about jobs and doing something about renewable energy standards and keeping the economy growth going that way instead of passing unconstitutional bills,” the senator said, going on to list pieces of legislation he believed Ohio’s lawmakers should be working on instead.
Following Trump’s election, anti-abortion legislation has been introduced all over the country including a law that would ban abortion entirely in Indiana. Proabortion rights groups are fighting back.
“Politicians resorted to underhanded tactics to try and sneak through this harmful legislation without notice,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund told BuzzFeed News. She said she expects Ohio citizens to protest the bill adding, “we will fight back, no matter what.”
Last week, Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the ACLU filed lawsuits in three states to overturn abortion restrictions, saying that they were against the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, as well as June’s decision upholding the abortion rights law. In the latter, the court, by a vote of 53, struck down abortion provider restrictions in Texas.
If abortion legislation is challenged and makes its way to the US Supreme Court, it would face the question of whether it places an undue burden on a woman’s right to an abortion.
George Carlin: Pro-life is anti-woman.