By: Riley Head ~Staff Writer~
Ohio House Bill 493, also known as the controversial “Heartbeat Bill,” was vetoed by Governor John Kasich on Dec. 13.
The rejected bill proposed to ban abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur in as soon as five weeks.
The bill sparked some controversy after the Associated Press reported that some women do not discover that they are pregnant until six weeks into the pregnancy.
The bill had previously been created to revise child abuse and neglect reporting laws. The specifics of the restriction were added Tuesday afternoon right before the Wednesday vote. Before this addition, which caused much controversy, the bill had garnered wide support from both sides of the aisle.
Although Kasich vetoed the “Heartbeat Bill,” he did sign Sub. Senate Bill 127, which bans abortion after 20 weeks from conception.
This approved bill may conflict with Supreme Court decisions, which hold that abortions are legal until the fetus is viable at around 24 weeks.
Kasich, who has described himself as a champion for the sanctity of life, said he vetoed the “Heartbeat Bill” because it was “clearly contrary” to previous Supreme Court rulings.
“Senate Bill 127 (the 20-week ban) is the best, most legally sound and sustainable approach to protecting the sanctity of human life,” Kasich said.
The governor further defended his veto to pro-life activist groups by explaining the state would have been forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in a losing effort to defend the law. The money spent on doing so would end up rolling back other restrictions enacted by the state, he elaborated.
The bill that Kasich signed provided an exemption clause for saving the mother’s life but not one for rape or incest. Despite this clause, the bill still drew support from various activist groups.
“The 20-week ban was nationally designed to be the vehicle to end abortion in America,” Michael Gonidakis, Ohio Right to Life President, said in support of the bill. “It challenges the current national abortion standard and properly moves the legal needle from viability to the baby’s ability to feel pain.”
The group, Ohio’s largest right-tolife organization, did not support the Heartbeat Bill because it believed the law would be found unconstitutional. For that same reason, Senate leaders had previously declined to vote on legislation.
Senate President Keith Faber said Tuesday his position changed after Trump’s e;ectopm, which increased the possibility of conservative justices joining the court.
The bill also drew protests from pro-choice advocates.
“John Kasich is treating women’s health care like a game,” Kellie Copeland, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director, said. “He thinks that by vetoing one abortion ban Ohioans will not notice that he has signed another…Once a woman has made the decision to end a pregnancy, she needs access to safe and legal abortion care in her community. Kasich’s actions today will fall hardest on low-income women, women of color and young women.”
Frustrated advocates of the bill have since vowed to work to override the veto.
The Heartbeat Bill’s foremost champion, Janet Porter of Faith2Action, has lobbied for the “Heartbeat Bill” for years.
“It’s not over. We are two votes away from overriding Gov. Kasich’s betrayal of life in the House,” Porter said.
If passed, the heartbeat bill would be the strictest abortion law in the nation.
Arkansas and North Dakota both passed similar bills that were quickly overturned by court before being upheld by the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
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