Ohio Gov. DeWine signs ‘heartbeat’ abortion bill

Sergio Conner
April 14, 2019

DeWine's signature makes OH the fifth state to ban abortions after the first detectable fetal heartbeat.

Gov. Mike DeWine delivered on his campaign promise to sign the controversial legislation that bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The signing of the bill came as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's office researches a similar heartbeat bill that the Georgia Legislature passed.

'It is our duty, I believe, and an essential function of government, to protect those who can not protect themselves'. "Government's role should be to protect life from the beginning to the end".

The bill does include an exception to save the life of the woman, but no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. Similar fetal laws have been passed in North Dakota, Arkansas, Kentucky, Iowa and MS, but they all have been ruled unconstitutional when challenged in court.

Even before the bill was signed, the ACLU of OH said it was preparing a constitutional challenge to the law on behalf of Pre-Term Cleveland and three other OH abortion clinics. But regardless of what happens with Ohio's bill, which in recent days has been renamed the "Human Rights Protection Act", the sting in the legislature is palpable.

"The lower courts are going to find these laws unconstitutional because the Supreme Court requires that outcome", said Hillary Schneller, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights.

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While no six-week ban has actually gone into effect, abortion advocates claim lawmakers push for "radical abortion bans" as "part of a deliberate strategy" to get legal challenges that could take an abortion case to the Supreme Court, as Elizabeth Nash, the senior state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, said on a conference call with reporters in late March.

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. Meanwhile, this legal fight will cost OH taxpayers millions of dollars. Another bill in Georgia has yet to be signed by the governor.

(Fred Squillante/The Columbus Dispatch via AP) Gov. Mike DeWine signs a bill imposing one of the nation's toughest abortion restrictions, April 11, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. The Ohio Senate subsequently failed to override the governor's veto, and the bill did not pass.

A foetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The legislation also allows the State Medical Board to take disciplinary actions against doctors found in violation and impose penalties of up to $20,000.

Under the law, doctors and others who perform an abortion after a heartbeat has been detected or who fail to do an abdominal or transvaginal ultrasound before an abortion face being charged with a fifth-degree felony punishable by six to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

"Governor DeWine continues to prove his commitment to the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn" said Stephanie Ranade Krider, vice president and executive director of Ohio Right to Life.

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