(Originally posted December 9, 2016, from Affinity Magazine)
On Tuesday, the Ohio legislature passed a bill that would prohibit women from receiving an abortion once a heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as 6 weeks when most women don’t even know they are pregnant.
In previous years the ‘heartbeat bill’ has been passed twice by Ohio’s House, yet failed to pass Ohio’s Senate. However, a few days ago both Ohio’s House and Senate have passed the ‘heartbeat bill,’ which means that Ohio lawmakers have sent the bill to Governor, John Kasich, who has ten days to make a decision. Kasich has yet to make a statement about what he will do. Kasich has stated that he opposes abortion, with the exceptions of rape or incest. The new bill allows no exceptions for rape, incest, fetal anomaly, or for women who have conditions such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis.
The controversial and strict bill has received backlash from the media, as the bill violates current constitutional standards and women’s rights. Many argue that passing a 6-week ban for abortations will actually ban the majority of abortations in Ohio.
“If this law would take effect, it really is a flat-out abortion ban,” said Amanda Allen, senior state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
For the past forty years, The Supreme Court prohibits states from banning abortion before a fetus is considered viable outside the womb, which is normally between 24 to 28 weeks of gestation. However, on Thursday, the Republican-led legislature passed a new bill, which would make abortion illegal after 20 weeks, as according to anti-abortion opponents, this is when a fetus can experience pain. This means that the Governor now has the option of either signing the 6 weeks or 20 weeks bill. The bills will allow doctors who are found guilty of performing an abortion after 20 weeks to be prosecuted. Ohio is not the only state to propose a heartbeat bill, as in 2013 North Dakota and Arkansas attempted to pass similar laws, however, the court ruled them as unconstitutional in 2015 and the abortion laws were never enacted
Many are concerned that the bill will impact the landmark decision, Roe v Wade. Ohio’s most known anti-abortion group, ‘Ohio Right to Life’ is behind the 20-week bill. The group believe that strategically, a 20-week ban, oppose to the 6-week ban, is the best way to work towards overturning Roe v wade. Ron Hood, a Republican legislator in the Ohio House of Represnetivtives, stated that “rape and incest are heinous acts that should be penalized criminally. Why should we penalize the baby?”
Donald Trump’s presidential win is believed to be what encouraged Ohio lawmakers to push the bill for the third time, as they believe that the new Supreme Cout would be more likely to approve the ‘heartbeat’ bill.“A new president, new supreme court appointees change the dynamic, and there was a consensus in our caucus to move forward,” said senate president Keith Faber.