Ohio is poised to become the next state to ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. On Wednesday, both houses of the state’s General Assembly voted to pass a heartbeat bill, sending it to Republican Governor Mike DeWine, who has said he would sign such a bill.
No Democrats voted for the bill. Four Republicans in each chamber voted against it.
The bill makes it a felony for anyone to perform an abortion once the unborn baby’s heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into the pregnancy. Violators could face six to 12 months in prison and a $2,500 fine. Doctors would also be subject to discipline by the state medical board, potentially including loss of their license and a $20,000 fine, which would help fund foster-care and adoption services. Abortion providers would also be subject to wrongful-death lawsuits.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, “Democrats offered a slew of amendments to offer an exemption for rape and incest, eliminate the statute of limitations on rape, prevent taxpayers from paying the legal bill for the imminent court battle, exempt African-American women from the abortion ban and even require DNA from all men to ensure child support is paid.” (That Democrats want to ensure the abortion of black babies, who are already killed far more often than white babies, is particularly telling, not to mention emblematic of the history of the population-control movement, which has often been explicitly racist.)
The only exemption that passed, however, was one to preserve a woman’s health, although even that exemption contains strict documentation requirements.
Supporters of the bill were ecstatic about its passage.
State Representative Candice Keller, a Republican who also serves as the executive director of a crisis-pregnancy center, called it “the most compassionate bill we’ve ever passed.” Contrary to abortion proponents’ claims that allowing the murder of unborn children empowers women, Keller said, “If we are really about empowering the women of Ohio and empowering the women of this country, we will begin to tell the truth about the abortion industry and the enormous amount of profit that is made on the backs of women.”
“This is not a Democratic or Republican issue,” Keller declared. “This is not a religious issue. This is an issue of humanity and morality.”
State Representative Tim Ginter, a Republican and ordained minister, “said that abortion supporters who rely on their faith to inform their beliefs are mistaken,” reported Cleveland.com.
“This [the unborn baby] is not the mother’s body,” he said. “This is a separate entity.”
Opponents, meanwhile, rattled off the usual litany of the supposed harms brought about by restricting abortion, such as back-alley abortions and economic calamities.
“I’m concerned that we will have companies that will choose not to locate here due to our oppressive laws. I’m concerned that doctors will leave the state of Ohio,” said State Representative Michele Lapore-Hagan, a Democrat. “I’m concerned that our kids are going to leave, that we’re going to lose a large amount of young people who don’t want to live in an oppressive atmosphere.”
Five other states have passed similar heartbeat bills. Two have been blocked by the courts, which consider them unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court declined to hear the one case that was appealed to it, allowing the lower court’s ruling to stand.
DeWine’s predecessor, Republican Governor John Kasich, twice vetoed heartbeat bills on the grounds that the cost to defend them was too high given that the state was, in his opinion, certain to lose in court. If DeWine, as expected, signs the bill, Kasich’s prediction will be put the test.
“If this is what it takes, we’ll see you at the Supreme Court,” said Iris Harvey, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio — which, of course, stands to lose a huge amount of business if the law is upheld.
Supporters such as GOP State Representative Ron Hood, however, are itching for the fight, confident that they have the magic bullet to overturn the high court’s 46-year-old decision.
“Will there be a lawsuit?” asked Hood. “Yeah, we’re counting on it. We’re excited about it. Because this will be the law that ultimately reverses Roe v. Wade.”
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