COLUMBUS, Ohio -- An Ohio bill that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected is headed to the governor’s desk.
Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled state House voted to approve the so-called “heartbeat bill” Tuesday night after it passed in the Senate earlier in the day, clearing the way for what would be one of the nation’s most stringent abortion restrictions.
The legislation would prohibit most abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy after the first detectable heartbeat.
Gov. John Kasich, an abortion opponent, has previously voiced concerns about whether such a move would be constitutional. He has not said whether he plans to sign the measure.
State Senate President Keith Faber, a Republican, said the twice-defeated bill came back up again because of Donald Trump’s presidential victory and the expectation he will fill Supreme Court vacancies with justices who are more likely to uphold stricter abortion bans.
Asked if he expects the Ohio proposal to survive a legal challenge, Faber said: “I think it has a better chance than it did before.”
The ban would make an exception if the mother’s life is in danger but not in cases of rape or incest, he said.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio said the move would block access to abortion before most women even know they’re pregnant. “This bill would effectively outlaw abortion and criminalize physicians that provide this care to their patients,” said Kellie Copeland, the group’s executive director.
Under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling establishing a nationwide right to abortion, states were permitted to restrict abortions after viability - the point when the fetus has a reasonable chance of surviving under normal conditions outside the uterus. The ruling offered no legal definition of viability, saying it could range between 24 and 28 weeks into a pregnancy.