State senators on Thursday balked at passing one of the most stringent abortion bans in the nation, but the fight over the so-called ‘heartbeat’ bill is far from over.
Senate Health Committee Chairman Dave Burke, R-Marysville, said he plans to pass the bill out of committee next week. But that won’t leave enough time for the full Senate and House to override an expected veto of the bill by Gov. John Kasich. Lawmakers are scheduled to finish work by Dec. 19.
However, conservative, anti-abortion lawmakers are likely to bring the measure back early next year. Governor-elect Mike DeWine has said that he would sign such a bill into law.
The heartbeat bill would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks gestation and before women know they’re pregnant. The bill does not provide exceptions in cases of rape or incest. If Ohio passes such a law, it would join North Dakota and Arkansas in the legal battle to push for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe versus Wade.
Abortion opponents have been fighting for a heartbeat bill to pass in Ohio since 2011. While one passed the legislature in 2016, Kasich vetoed it.
Kasich has signed into law at least 18 abortion restrictions during his eight-year tenure as governor. The heartbeat bill is the only abortion restriction he has vetoed.
The bill is strongly opposed by many Democrats and reproductive rights groups such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice. The Ohio Right to Life is neutral on the measure.
Last year, there were 20,893 induced abortions in Ohio, a 1 percent increase over 2016, according to a report from the Ohio Department of Health. Of those, 11,784 were performed at nine weeks or less of gestation, 6,084 at between nine and 12 weeks, 2,935 at 13 to 20 weeks and 90 at 21 weeks or more, the report showed.
Jaime Miracle of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio said, “While we celebrate a temporary stall, we will remain vigilant through the rest of lame duck and Mike DeWine’s governorship that starts in January to make sure that we protect abortion access in the state of Ohio.”