Friday, May 3, 2019
The six-week abortion ban known as the "heartbeat bill" is now law in Ohio. That makes Ohio the sixth state in the nation to attempt to outlaw abortions at the point a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
Gov. Mike DeWine signed the bill Thursday afternoon, just one day after it passed the Republican-led General Assembly. The law is slated to take effect in 90 days, unless blocked by a federal judge.
Now known as the "Human Rights Protection Act," SB 23 outlaws abortions as early as five or six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women know they're pregnant. It is one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.
The bill does include an exception to save the life of the woman, but no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.***
DeWine's signature will set off a lengthy legal fight. The ACLU of Ohio announced it will sue to stop the law, which the group says "virtually bans all abortion care."
With the stroke of a pen by Gov. Mike DeWine, Ohio became the third state this year to pass a "heartbeat" bill banning abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
The ban takes effect after the detection of a fetal heartbeat at a point before many women are even aware they are pregnant.
Kentucky and Mississippi have adopted similar laws, while a Georgia bill awaits only the expected signature by Gov. Brian Kemp by May 12. The Mississippi law takes effect in July.
Meanwhile, "heartbeat" bills have passed one chamber of the legislature in Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee and have been introduced in Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, South Carolina and West Virginia.
The bills hit at the nexus of the abortion debate, and frame the act in stark,emotional terms, with proponents arguing that preserving life outweighs arguments against government interference in personal, medical decisions.
For prior scholarship on this bill, see Marc Spindelman, On the Constitutionality of Ohio's Proposed "Heartbeat Bill", 74 Ohio State L.J. 149 (2012)