Ohio House votes to ban nearly all abortions with heartbeat bill

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COLUMBUS, Ohio, November 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Ohio House of Representatives voted Wednesday to pass legislation that would ban the vast majority of abortions upon detection of a fetal heartbeat.

House Bill 258 would ban committing an abortion on any preborn baby with a detectable heartbeat, except in cases of a “substantial and irreversible” physical threat to the mother. Any physician that violates the statute would face up to a year in prison. Preborn babies’ hearts finish forming around 7-8 weeks into pregnancy.

Laura Bischoff@lbischoff

Heart beat bill clears Ohio House 58-35. Not a veto-proof margin.

HB 258 now goes to the overwhelmingly-Republican state Senate, where Senate President Larry Obhof says he has the votes to pass it, the Cincinnati Enquirerreports. He hasn’t decided whether or not to hold a vote, however, because the bill is opposed by Ohio’s ostensibly “pro-life” Gov. John Kasich.

Kasich vetoed a heartbeat abortion ban in 2016, instead signing a late-term abortion ban and arguing the state would only lose an inevitable lawsuit defending the stronger law, gaining nothing but legal bills. He’s expected to do so again, and the bill’s 58-35 margin isn’t large enough to override a veto.

If the outgoing governor again vetoes the bill and lawmakers can’t muster enough votes to override it, pro-lifers will have another chance when Governor-elect Mike DeWine, previously the state’s attorney general, takes over in January. DeWine, who in his previous role defended the states’ efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, has already pledged to sign the bill.

“Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati has supported Ohio’s human heartbeat protection strategy since efforts began in 2011. In the years since, these efforts have educated many on the true nature of abortion’s toll on women, men, and their unborn children,” the group said Wednesday. “Establishing human heartbeat protections in Ohio is a historic opportunity for those committed to the cause of life.”

Currently, the strongest state-level protections for preborn babies are Iowa’s heartbeat abortion ban and Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, both of which are currently tied up in the courts. The Ohio measure is all-but-certain to face a similar legal challenge, but several pro-lifers, such as Rep. Steve King of Iowa, argue that now is the time to press such a legal battle.

The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld Roe v. Wade since 1973 and has not yet upheld any pre-viability abortion bans, but heartbeat supporters argue that President Donald Trump’s nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to replace the pro-abortion Justice Anthony Kennedy has shifted the court’s ideological balance to the point where the pro-life case has a fighting chance.

It’s not known how Kavanaugh or Trump’s first nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, will vote on Roe. Both alarmed some pro-lifers by expressing significant respect for Roe’s status as “precedent,” though other pro-lifers argued they were merely phrasing their answers diplomatically to navigate a narrowly-divided Senate confirmation process.

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