OH passes twice-vetoed law to ban abortions after fetal heartbeat

Cheryl Sanders
April 14, 2019

DeWine's signature makes OH the fifth state to ban abortions after the first detectable fetal heartbeat.

Republicans in Columbus just passed the nation's most extreme abortion ban to date, and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed it.

The signing of the bill came as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's office researches a similar heartbeat bill that the Georgia Legislature passed.

"The essential function of government is to protect the most vulnerable among us, those who do not have a voice", DeWine said during the signing ceremony at the Statehouse in Columbus. "Government's rule should be to protect life from the beginning to the end, to protect those who can not protect themselves".

The law makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Similar fetal laws have been passed in North Dakota, Arkansas, Kentucky, Iowa and MS, but they all have been ruled unconstitutional when challenged in court.

When that happens, it won't matter whether taxpayers agree or disagree with the bill's language because we will be on the hook for the legal fees to defend the law now on the books in the state of Ohio.

Opponents of the legislation have promised to challenge the law in federal court.

Abortion-rights advocates and medical professionals say the quick timeline will make it virtually impossible for most women to have access to abortion in OH because many women don't even know they are pregnant by the time a fetus has a heartbeat detectable to an obstetrician.

There is an exception for medical emergencies that place the prospective mother's life in danger.

In a surprise move earlier, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined with the high court's liberals to block a Louisiana law that would have restricted abortion access.

The ACLU have said they are planning to challenge the ban constitutionally.

"The lower courts are going to find these laws unconstitutional because the Supreme Court requires that outcome", said Hillary Schneller, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The bill was passed 56-40, with all Democrats and a few Republicans voting against it. The state of Texas allows capital punishment for homicide, which means if a woman gets an abortion, she is subjected to the death penalty. Florida legislators also are considering a heartbeat bill.

"Pro-life Ohio thanks Governor DeWine for taking a courageous stand on behalf of unborn children with beating hearts", said Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis in a statement. "Trigger bans" would automatically make abortion illegal if Roe vs. Wade is overturned, "method bans" keep providers from performing a specific type of abortion; "reason bans" prohibit abortion based on fetal characteristics, such as sex, race or disability status; and "gestational age bans", prohibit abortions at a specific point in pregnancy, such as six, 18 or 20 weeks after the last menstrual period.

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