Yesterday, the Ohio legislature passed a controversial “heartbeat bill” that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat could be detected, which usually occurs around six weeks into a pregnancy. Even if Ohio governor John Kasich signs the bill, it is likely that it would be struck down by courts as an unconstitutional restriction on women’s ability to access abortion.
Republicans in the Ohio General Assembly were recently emboldened in their efforts to pass such a bill given Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election. “A new president, new Supreme Court appointees change the dynamic, and there was consensus in our caucus to move forward,” said Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina). “I think it has a better chance than it did before.”
Because of Trump’s promise to appoint conservative-minded justices to the Supreme Court and to federal courts across the country, Faber and his fellow Ohio Republicans believe the measure will have a better chance of withstanding judicial review.
The legislation does not make exceptions for cases of rape or incest, but it does allow for an abortion procedure if a mother’s life is in danger. It would be the strictest abortion restriction in the country if it were to be made law. In fact, abortions generally can’t be performed until a child can be identified by ultrasound, meaning that the earliest abortions usually take place somewhere around the fourth or fifth week of pregnancy. Therefore, the Ohio bill would effectively outlaw nearly all abortions in the state.
Kasich has opposed the heartbeat bill throughout the past two years, primarily because of concerns that it would not pass constitutional muster. He has declined to comment to multiple media outlets on this latest attempt to enact the law.