Many women do not know they are pregnant until the second month of a missed period.
Abortion rights activists read the news about a Supreme Court decision in June that upheld Roe v. Wade.
Pete Marovich / Getty Images
Ohio legislators passed a “heartbeat” bill Wednesday that bans abortion after a fetus' heartbeat can be heard — on average around six weeks into a pregnancy. The bill has no exception for cases of rape or incest.
The bill was tacked on at the last minute to another bill addressing child abuse. It was approved in the Republican-dominated state House and Senate, and will now move on to Republican and anti-abortion Governor John Kasich's desk. He will sign or veto it within the next 10 days.
“A hallmark of lame duck” — a term used to describe sessions of lawmakers that sit between when elections are over and the new lawmakers take office — “is a flood of bills, including bills inside of bills, and we will closely examine everything we receive,” said Kasich press secretary, Emmalee Kalmbach.
The American Civil Liberties Union has said that they would challenge the bill in court should it become law.
Many women do not know they are pregnant until they have missed two periods, which can often be around eight weeks. Others may find out before the six-week mark, but might still be unable to get an abortion in time because there are a lack of clinics in Ohio and state laws require women wait 24 hours between an informational appointment about abortion and having the procedure done.
Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper, a practitioner of clinical medicine and member of Physicians for Reproductive Health, told BuzzFeed News that the bill was “extreme” and “dangerous.”
“We have evidence that shows that banning abortion does not make it go away — it just increases the chances that people will seek care in potentially unsafe environments,” Horvath-Cosper said.
The ban was attached at the last minute to another measure, House Bill 493, which expedites the process by which doctors report cases of child abuse to law enforcement authorities.
The bill was written by anti-abortion, anti-LGBT rights activist Janet Porter aka Janet Folger. She authored the book The Criminalization of Christianity: Read This Book Before It Becomes Illegal!
Republican state Sen. Kris Jordan called for the “heartbeat” amendment to be included earlier Wednesday morning. The Ohio Senate voted 20–11 to add the amendment, then passed the bill with a primarily partisan 21–10 vote.
“We are a pro-life caucus,” Jordan wrote in a statement. “The passage of this legislation in the Ohio Senate demonstrates our commitment to protecting the children of Ohio at every stage of life.”
Following Trump's election, anti-abortion legislation has been introduced all over the country — including a law that would ban abortion entirely in Indiana. Pro-abortion rights groups are fighting back.
Last week, Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the ACLU filed lawsuits in three states to overturn abortion restrictions, saying that they were against the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, as well as June's decision upholding the abortion rights law. In the latter, the court, by a vote of 5–3, struck down abortion provider restrictions in Texas.
If abortion legislation is challenged and makes its way to the US Supreme Court it would face the question of whether it places an undue burden on a woman’s right to an abortion.
If Kasich signs the bill or does nothing, the bill will become law early next year.