National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Ohio lawmakers send 'heartbeat' abortion ban to Gov.

Ohio lawmakers on Tuesday sent to Gov. John Kasich (R) a bill (HB 493) that would ban abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which can be as early as the sixth week of pregnancy, the AP/Los Angeles Times reports.

Kasich, who opposes abortion rights, has not said whether he will sign the legislation. He has previously voiced concerns that such a ban is unconstitutional (AP/Los Angeles Times, 12/6).

According to Reuters, courts have overturned similar bans in Arkansas and North Dakota, and the Supreme Court in January declined to review the rulings (Palmer, Reuters, 12/7). Under the Supreme Court's ruling in Roe v. Wade, states are permitted to restrict abortion rights only after the point of fetal viability, which is between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy (AP/Los Angeles Times, 12/6).

Bill details

The measure is part of a larger bill on reporting child abuse. The abortion ban includes a limited exception when the woman's life is in danger. It does not include exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

The state House has twice before approved similar legislation, but both efforts were defeated in the state Senate (Reuters, 12/7).

However, on Tuesday, the state Senate passed the bill and sent it to the state House, which approved the legislation that evening. State Senate President Keith Faber (R) said lawmakers opted to consider the bill again in light of President-elect Donald Trump's pledge to appoint abortion-rights opponents to the Supreme Court, making it more likely the proposed ban could withstand a legal challenge (AP/Los Angeles Times, 12/6).

Comments

The Guttmacher Institute criticized the bill, saying if it was enacted, it would be one of the most stringent abortion bans in the country.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio also condemned the measure. "Banning women from getting a medical procedure is out of touch with Ohio values and is completely unacceptable," the organization said (Reuters, 12/7).

Kellie Copeland, executive director at NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, explained that the measure would ban abortion care before most women are aware that they are pregnant. She said, "This bill would effectively outlaw abortion and criminalize physicians [who] provide this care to their patients" (AP/Los Angeles Times, 12/6).