The Ohio legislature passed a bill on Tuesday that would ban abortion after the baby’s heartbeat can be detected.
The so-called “heartbeat bill” now heads to Gov. John Kasich, who hasn’t said whether he’ll sign or veto it.
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 by the time most realise they are pregnant, it could be too late for them to get a safe, legal abortion in the state.
The bill doesn’t provide exceptions allowing abortion in cases of rape or incest.
Pro-choice groups, including the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood, decried the bill, calling it unconstitutional because it violates the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade granting women a constitutional right to safe, legal abortions.
Ohio State Senate President Keith Faber, a Republican, told the Associated Press that Trump’s victory emboldened the legislature to pass the 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. We must prevent that from happening to protect women’s lives,” NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said in a statement.
“This bill would effectively outlaw abortion and criminalise physicians that provide this care to their patients.”
Pro-choice 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
Kasich’s spokeswoman Emmalee Kalmbach declined to comment on whether he would sign the bill or not, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
He could also line-item veto the part of the bill banning abortion, The Dispatch reports, since the abortion ban was “tacked on as a last-minute amendment” to a bill addressing child abuse prevention, according to Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus Chair Kathy DiCristofaro.
Although Kasich is pro-life, he has said in the past he opposed the bill because of its unconstitutionality.
The Ohio legislature was also considering a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks into pregnancy on Wednesday.
If either bill becomes law, the ACLU of Ohio has threatened to sue. Other pro-choice groups would likely join them.
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