UPDATE: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday signed into law a bill protecting unborn babies from abortion from the moment they have a detectable heartbeat, usually around six weeks of gestation. Even before the bill was signed, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio said it was preparing a suit to challenge to the law, something DeWine and Ohio pro-life advocates anticipated.
“Taking this action really is a kind of a time-honored tradition, the constitutional tradition of making a good faith argument for modification or reversal of existing legal precedents,” DeWine said. “So that is what this is.”
OUR EARLIER REPORT (1:29 p.m.): Ohio lawmakers approved a bill Wednesday to protect babies from abortion after their heartbeats can be heard, typically at six to eight weeks of gestation. Now the measure heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, who previously promised to sign it. The law passed in the House by a 56-39 vote and in the Senate by a vote of 18-3. DeWine spokesman Daniel Tierney said Thursday the governor’s office had not yet received the bill, but DeWine plans to sign it when it arrives, which could be as soon as Thursday afternoon. The law would penalize anyone who performs an abortion on an unborn baby with a detectable heartbeat. Abortionists violating the law could face a fifth-degree felony charge, the potential for up to one year in prison, and a $2,500 fine.
This is not the first time lawmakers have passed the pro-life legislation. Similar bills cleared the House and Senate in December 2016 and again in December 2018, but then-Gov. John Kasich, also a Republican, vetoed both, arguing the law would not survive a court challenge.
State Rep. Christina Hagan, a Republican who sponsored the bill, previously told reporters that lawmakers drafted the legislation in direct opposition to Roe v. Wade: “Our intention is to go directly to the heart of Roe v. Wade and to challenge the question of when a life begins in the United States and when [unborn babies’] constitutional protection is due to them.”
North Dakota and Arkansas have also passed heartbeat bills, but federal courts ruled them unconstitutional.
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Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.