A bill to ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected cleared the Ohio Senate on a 19-13 vote Wednesday.
Senate Bill 23 would prohibit doctors from performing abortions once a heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks gestation before women may know they are pregnant. It contains an exception for cases in which the life of the mother is at risk but no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
State Sen. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, said the bill is “an opportunity to take a stand and defend the most innocent among us: the unborn.”
State Sen. Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood, said the bill is political intrusion in a personal, medical decision. She noted that she would like to work on reducing unintended pregnancies through comprehensive sex education and other approaches.
It is the fifth time the bill has been introduced and debated in the Senate. It now moves to the Ohio House for consideration, where it is expected to pass.
Democrats offered amendments to mandate maternity services coverage by health insurance companies, allow hospitals to advise and offer emergency contraceptives to rape victims and make exceptions to the prohibition in cases of rape or incest or mental health issues. Those amendments were tabled along party line votes.
While Republican Gov. John Kasich twice vetoed similar bills, Gov. Mike DeWine has said he would sign such a bill into law.
The bill is strongly opposed by many Democrats and reproductive rights groups such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice.
In 2017, 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.
State senators also voted 32-0 in favor of a resolution urging Congress to pass legislation that would mandate medical care for abortion survivors. A crowd in the Senate chambers burst into applause when it passed.