Ohio House lawmakers passed a bill Thursday that would prohibit abortions after an unborn baby has a detectable heartbeat.
State House Bill 258 passed in a 58-35 vote and now moves to the state Senate for consideration.
The controversial legislation would ban most abortions in Ohio if it becomes law. An unborn baby’s heart begins beating around six weeks, though new research suggests it may begin as early as 18 days after conception. The bill also would allow abortion practitioners to be charged with a felony for aborting unborn babies whose hearts are beating.
Ohio lawmakers passed a similar bill in 2016, but Gov. John Kasich vetoed it, fearing an almost certain legal challenge.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports lawmakers discussed a potential veto again during a sometimes heated debate Thursday.
“The point is: it’s time. It doesn’t matter if the governor is with us or against us,” said state Rep. Christina Hagan, who is a sponsor of the bill, a pro-life Republican and mother of infant twins. “Motherhood isn’t easy but it’s necessary.”
Many others who spoke out in favor of the legislation also were pro-life female lawmakers. According to the report:
“(Abortion) is not a constitutional right,” said Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, despite the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. “If you don’t know that, you need to read the Constitution.”
Rep. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, said abortion is murder and Ohio lawmakers have the responsibility to label it as such.
“Today, let us stand up for the most innocent among us: the unborn,” Roegner said.
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However, many House Democrats complained about the penalty for abortion practitioners and the lack of exceptions for rape and incest, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
In 2017, 20,893 unborn babies were aborted in Ohio, according to the state Department of Health.
Heartbeat bills have been met with skepticism in the past, even by many pro-life groups, because of pro-abortion legal challenges.
North Dakota and Arkansas passed heartbeat bills several years ago, but federal courts struck down both laws. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said the following about their ruling on the six-week ban: “Because there is no genuine dispute that (North Dakota’s law) generally prohibits abortions before viability — as the Supreme Court has defined that concept — and because we are bound by Supreme Court precedent holding that states may not prohibit pre-viability abortions, we must affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the plaintiffs.”
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the cases in 2016.
Though there is more hope that the new conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court may consider an abortion ban, it is difficult to say if it would for certain. Some legal scholars have speculated that the new conservative court would be more likely to consider cases that gradually chip away at Roe v. Wade rather than reverse it completely.