Despite relentless opposition, the Ohio House of Representatives has passed a landmark pro-life bill, which would prevent abortions from taking place after a fetal heartbeat is detected.
The “heartbeat bill” passed last Thursday, with a vote of 60-35. Despite there being a high level of uncertainty over the bill’s viability as it makes its way through the legislature, pro-lifers are still seeing this as a major win. There is wide speculation that the bill will not pass through the Ohio Senate, and Republican Gov. John Kasich is also expected to attempt a veto, as he has in the past, if it reaches his desk.
“The point is: it’s time. It doesn’t matter if the governor is with us or against us,” said one of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Christina Hagan, R-Marlboro Township in Stark County, as one of her newborn twins cried out. “Motherhood isn’t easy but it’s necessary.”
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the heartbeat bill would not allow abortions after the first six weeks of a woman’s pregnancy, and would penalize doctors “who perform abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.”
More from the Enquirer:
“A physician who performs an abortion after that point could face a fifth-degree felony punishable by up to a year in prison. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. But an abortion would be permitted to save a pregnant woman’s life or prevent her from suffering a “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.””
According to Ohio Department of Heath, during 2017, 9,109 abortions were performed at nine weeks gestation or later. That amounts to some 44 percent of all abortions carried out during that year.
Rep. Ron Hood, R-Ashville, who endured the horrific loss of a stillborn son, backed the bill.
“We know that if there’s a heartbeat, there’s life,” he said.
“(Abortion) is not a constitutional right,” added Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown. “If you don’t know that, you need to read the Constitution.”
Another congresswoman putting her name to the bill was Rep. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson.
“Today, let us stand up for the most innocent among us: the unborn,” she added.
In 2016, Ohio’s governor, John Kasich, promptly vetoed an attempt to get the “heartbeat” legislation through both state houses. But on that occasion, Kasich had another bill, which banned abortion after 20 weeks, to fall back on.
“I agree with Ohio Right to Life and other leading, pro-life advocates that SB 127 (the 20-week abortion bill), is the best, most legally sound and sustainable approach to protecting the sanctity of human life,” Kasich said at the time, according to Dayton Daily News.
Now, however, with no alternative pro-life bill to soften the blow, Kasich is faced with a much sterner test.
So what happens if Kasich decides to use his veto? The bill can still become law if the House and Senate both choose to push it through. This can only take place if three-fifths of the Ohio House (60 of 99 representatives) and the Ohio Senate (20 of 33 senators) vote in favor of an override of Kasich’s veto.
With Kasich leaving office in January, action must be taken swiftly before the session ends. According to Cleveland.com, House Speaker Ryan Smith, a Gallia County Republican, said that Kasich would likely “try to run out the clock on us,” delaying his veto in order to make it impossible for an override vote to be organized in time.