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Heartbeat bill passes and legal battle set

14 April 2019

OH became the sixth state in the nation on Thursday to outlaw abortion from the time when a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

Thanks to Governor Mike DeWine of OH, the state has became the third this year to pass a "heartbeat" bill which bans abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Similar bills had been proposed in OH in the past, but the state's last Republican governor, John Kasich, vetoed those saying that they were unconstitutional.

"The essential function of government is to protect the most vulnerable among us, those who don't have a voice", DeWine said as he signed the bill. "Government's role should be to protect life from the beginning to the end".

The new law makes it a fifth-degree felony offense in OH to induce or perform an abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, except in a case of medical emergency. Kentucky's heartbeat law has been blocked for now by a federal judge; abortion-rights lawyers are seeking a similar injunction in MS before the law there takes effect July 1.

About 24 hours after the Ohio Legislature passed the abortion ban, DeWine signed it.

Pro-abortion groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union of OH have vowed to challenge Ohio's new law in court.

The bill says "no person shall knowingly and purposefully perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman before determining... whether the unborn human individual the pregnant woman is carrying has a detectable heartbeat".

The ACLU have said they are planning to challenge the ban constitutionally. Iris Harvey, the chief executive officer and president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, has made it clear that she is willing to take the bill to the Supreme Court if necessary. "And we've talked a lot about the 95 percent of the time that we are going to agree, maybe not on the direction, maybe not what we want to do as a state, but 95 percent of the time, we are going to be out there working on things that... you know, jobs packages, education issues, things like that... and the 5 percent that are issues that are volatile issues that Republicans and Democrats traditionally don't agree upon, we can't dwell on those issues". Another bill in Georgia has yet to be signed by the governor.

Regardless of what happens with Ohio's bill, the sting in the legislature is palpable.

The Ohio Senate originally passed the bill last month.

The bill, SB 23, passed the Ohio House of Representatives 56-40 and the Senate 18-13 this week, sending it to DeWine.

A foetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Florida legislators also are considering a heartbeat bill.

OH lawmakers approved the bill Wednesday (April 10) to protect babies from abortion after their heartbeats can be heard, typically at six to eight weeks of gestation. Many anti-abortion activists in favor of these bills have expressed that the ultimate goal is to overturn Roe v. Wade and make abortion entirely illegal.

Heartbeat bill passes and legal battle set