This Wednesday afternoon, the Ohio House of Representatives passed the heartbeat bill that has been in deliberation in the House for the past few weeks. The bill will move on to the desk of Governor Mike DeWine, who has said he will be signing it.
The bill was passed 56-40, with all Democrats and a few Republicans voting against it. The bill will prohibit abortions in the case of a detectable heartbeat, which can occur as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, and possibly before a woman is aware she is pregnant. Similar fetal laws have been passed in North Dakota, Arkansas, Kentucky, Iowa and Mississippi, but they all have been ruled unconstitutional when challenged in court.
It seems likely that this bill, if passed into law, will follow a similar path, as it violates the verdict reached by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, that an undue burden must not be placed on women’s rights by preventing them from choosing an abortion. Many anti-abortion activists in favor of these bills have expressed that the ultimate goal is to overturn Roe v. Wade and make abortion entirely illegal. Candice Keller, a Republican in the House of Representatives has made it clear that she views abortion as a humanitarian issue, not a political or religious issue.
The Ohio Heartbeat bill, or Ohio Senate Bill 23, makes no exceptions in occasions of rape or incest and is notoriously one of the strictest abortion bans in the country. Performing an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detectable will result in doctors being charged with a fifth-degree felony, punishable by up to a year in prison. In addition, the Ohio House of Representatives added an amendment that would increase the fines that the state medical board could charge doctors to $20,000.
According to an analysis of the bill by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, abortion providers are required to keep documention of a woman’s medical issues for seven years. Additionally, the woman getting the abortion would be obligated to sign papers conceding she is allowing the abortion, and that “the unborn human individual that the pregnant woman is carrying has a fetal heartbeat and that the pregnant woman is aware of the statistical probability of bringing the unborn human individual that the pregnant woman is carrying to term.”
Protestors against the bill and proponents of the bill demonstrated outside the Ohio House of Representatives as it was being voted on. Iris Harvey, the chief executive officer and president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, has made it clear that she is willing to take the bill to the Supreme Court if necessary.