The Ohio House of Representatives voted Thursday to pass a bill that would ban almost all abortions upon detection of a heartbeat in the unborn baby.
But the bill did not pass by a big enough margin to make it veto-proof, and Gov. John Kasich has staunchly opposed it, arguing it is unconstitutional in light of Supreme Court precedent. He vetoed a similar bill in 2016.
The final vote Thursday in favor of the heartbeat bill, or House Bill 258, was 58-35.
The only exception to the ban included in the bill is a “substantial and irreversible” physical threat to the mother.
Most unborn babies develop a detectable heartbeat between the sixth and eighth week of pregnancy. Any doctor who violated the law would be subject to up to a year in prison.
Before the vote Thursday, House Speaker Ryan Smith was asked by the Cincinnati Enquirer why he scheduled a vote now, in the lame-duck session, when a veto from Kasich is virtually assured.
“We’re a separate branch of government, and we’re going to do what our caucus has the will to do,” he responded. “The governor is going to do what he’s going to do and that’s that.”
A total of 20,893 unborn babies were aborted last year in Ohio, according to Ohio Right to Life.
The Cincinnati chapter of Ohio Right to Life issued a statement of support Wednesday for the heartbeat 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. Establishing human heartbeat protections in Ohio is a historic opportunity for those committed to the cause of life.”
Citizens for Community Values also issued an action alert to pro-life Ohioans Wednesday, urging them to call their legislators and voice support for the heartbeat bill.
Kasich, a Republican, has signed 18 pro-life bills into law during his eight years in office, including one that bans abortions after 20 weeks, but he balked at the heartbeat bill.
The Ohio legislature’s passage of the previous heartbeat bill in 2016 sparked Democrats to launch protests in Columbus and other cities. And they took to Twitter Thursday, expressing their outrage.
Rep @nickieantonio emphasizes that the #HeartbeatBill gives no exceptions to rape or incest. Period. We should be protecting constituents from domestic offenders, not forcing a life altering decision on them like this.
— Ohio House Dems (@OHHouseDems) November 15, 2018
Other Democrats berated Ohio Republicans who voted for the bill in profanity-laced tweets that cannot be republished here but can be seen at #HeartbeatBill.
The bill’s primary sponsors (pictured above) are Rep. Christina Hagan (R-Marlboro) and Rep. Ron Hood (R-Ashville). Hagan has 4-week-old twins, which she brought to the House floor Thursday:
Babies on the Ohio House floor during break in debate on #heartbeatbill, which would ban abortion at first detectable fetal heartbeat. Sponsor @RepHagan’s 4 week old twins making the rounds. #10TV pic.twitter.com/hq47zYK2g4
— Glenn McEntyre (@Glenn10TV) November 15, 2018
HB 258 now goes to the Republican-dominated state Senate, where Senate President Larry Obhof told the Cincinnati Enquirer he has enough “yes” votes. But he has yet to decide whether or not to hold a vote, given Kasich’s opposition.
If the lame-duck Kasich again vetoes the heartbeat bill and lawmakers can’t gather enough votes to override it, pro-life advocates will have another chance when Governor-elect Mike DeWine takes over in January. DeWine has already pledged to sign the bill.
According to LifeSite News, the nation’s strongest state-level protections for unborn babies are Iowa’s heartbeat abortion ban and Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, both of which are tied up in the courts. The Ohio bill, if signed into law by Kasich or DeWine, would face a similar fate, but many pro-life advocates argue now is the time to press ahead in the courts.
As LifeSite reports:
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.”
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Anthony Accardi is a writer and reporter for The Ohio Star.