The Ohio legislature passed the second bill this week that would impose some of the strictest bans on abortion in the country.
Both now head to Gov. John Kasich, who hasn’t said whether he’ll sign or veto either.
Iris Harvey, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, said the bills would make abortion illegal in the state, forcing women to travel long distances if they needed the procedure.
“For the second time in a week, the Ohio Legislature has inserted itself into women’s private and personal health care decisions,” Harvey said in a statement sent to Business Insider. “These bans are rejected by Ohioans. … We’re going to keep fighting back. Ohio legislators need to listen and John Kasich needs to veto these dangerous bans.”
Doctors can detect a foetus’ heartbeat as early as six weeks into pregnancy. Women usually don’t find out they’re pregnant until four to seven weeks in — meaning the heartbeat bill would most likely leave many women unable to get a safe, legal abortion in the state.
Only 478 of the 20,976 abortions reported in Ohio in 2015 involved pregnancies of more than 19 weeks, according to the state Department of Health. Fewer than 1% of abortions in the state occurred after 21 weeks into the pregnancy.
Research has found that most women who get abortions at or after 20 weeks wanted to get one sooner, but couldn’t because they couldn’t travel to get one, they were experiencing domestic violence, they were depressed or had substance abuse problems, or they couldn’t afford it.
Another reason to terminate a pregnancy after 20 weeks is because of severe birth defects, such as Trisomy 18, where the foetus wouldn’t survive if the woman carried it to term. On Wednesday, a couple who lost two pregnancies to this disease testified before the House, encouraging the committee to reject the 20-week bill.
Both bills allow an exception if the mother’s health is endangered, but not for cases of rape or incest. Rep. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo, who revealed to the legislature last year that she had an abortion after she was raped while in the military, called the ban an “attack on women.”
Abortion-rights advocacy groups, including Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights, decried the bill, calling it unconstitutional and saying it violates the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade granting women a constitutional right to safe, legal abortions.
Republican Keith Faber, the president of the Ohio Senate, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that Trump’s victory emboldened the legislature to pass the heartbeat bill, with the hope that the courts would uphold it.
“I think it has a better chance than it did before” to survive a legal challenge, Faber said.
“Clearly this bill’s supporters are hoping that President-elect Trump will have the chance to pack the US Supreme Court with justices that are poised to overturn Roe vs. Wade,” Kellie Copeland, the executive director of the abortion-rights group NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said in a statement on the heartbeat bill.
“We must prevent that from happening to protect women’s lives,” Copeland added. “This bill would effectively outlaw abortion and criminalise physicians that provide this care to their patients.”
Abortion-rights advocates protested outside the governor’s mansion Tuesday night, encouraging Kasich to veto the bill:
We call on @JohnKasich to veto the 20 week abortion ban and the 6 week ban. #ohgovxmas #stopthebans @CecileRichards @ProChoiceOH pic.twitter.com/DDihyDIuUJ
— Planned Parenthood (@PPAOhio) December 7, 2016
HAPPENING NOW: Pro-choice protesters are outside of the governors mansion urging him to veto the heartbeat bill if it comes to his desk. pic.twitter.com/0QSkgCPG7F
— Bryant Maddrick (@Bryantwsyx6) December 6, 2016
Abortion rights supporters protesting at Governor’s residence where event is being held, just hours after Ohio Senate passed Heartbeat bill pic.twitter.com/Ze4SYM4F2A
— Jo Ingles (@joingles) December 7, 2016
Kasich’s press secretary, Emmalee Kalmbach, declined to comment on whether he would sign the heartbeat bill, according to The Columbus Dispatch, and hasn’t made any further statements on the 20-week bill.
For the heartbeat bill, Kasich could line-item veto the part of the bill banning abortion, The Dispatch reports, with Kathy DiCristofaro, the chair of the Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus, describing the abortion ban as being “tacked on as a last-minute amendment” to a bill addressing child-abuse prevention. The 20-week ban is its own standalone bill, so he has to sign or veto that one as a whole.
The ACLU of Ohio has threatened to sue if either bill becomes law. Other abortions-rights advocates would most likely join their suit.
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