Ohio House lawmakers voted Thursday to override Gov. John Kasich’s veto of a bill to prohibit abortions after an unborn baby has a detectable heartbeat.
The House voted 60-28 in favor of the controversial legislation, State News reports. It now moves to the state Senate for a vote.
Kasich vetoed the bill last week, saying it would be struck down as unconstitutional before it could save any lives, and taxpayers would be forced to pay pro-abortion groups’ legal fees.
State House Bill 258 would ban most abortions in Ohio by prohibiting abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable. Research suggests a baby’s heartbeat may begin as early as 18 days after conception, but the heartbeat is detectable around six weeks. The bill also would allow abortion practitioners to be charged with a felony for violating the law.
It is not clear if the state Senate has enough votes to override Kasich’s veto. Cleveland.com reported previously that it needs two more votes to pass the bill without the governor’s support.
Last week, Kasich explained his reasons for vetoing the bill: “[H.B. 258] is contrary to the Supreme Court of the United States’ current rulings on abortion. As the losing party, the state of Ohio will be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to cover the legal fees for the pro-choice activists’ lawyers.”
But pro-life advocate Janet Folger Porter told State News that this heartbeat bill is different.
“This is the bill that was crafted exactly for the Supreme Court. It was meant from its birth, from its conception, to be before the court. Nothing else needs to be done to this and anything else is a delay that not only hurts its chances for override, it can kill the bill and the babies it is meant to protect,” Folger Porter said.
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Meanwhile, on Thursday, abortion activists gathered in the capital to protest the legislation, according to the report. Planned Parenthood of Ohio President Iris Harvey claimed the bill would take away women’s “right to choose” abortion.
Planned Parenthood CEO Leana Wen also tweeted about the legislation, claiming it is rooted in ideology and not medicine. Contrary to her claims, it is widely accepted as a medical fact that an unborn baby’s heart begins beating by six weeks of pregnancy.
Kasich did sign a second pro-life bill last week that prohibits brutal dismemberment abortions. In these common second-trimester abortion procedures, nearly fully formed unborn babies are torn limb from limb while their hearts are beating.
Heartbeat bills have been met with skepticism in the past, even by some pro-life groups, because of pro-abortion legal challenges. State taxpayers have been forced to pay pro-abortion groups’ legal fees after losing other abortion cases.
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.
There is more hope that the new conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court may consider an abortion ban, but it is difficult to say if it would for certain. Some legal scholars have speculated that the court would be more likely to consider cases that gradually chip away at Roe v. Wade – such as a dismemberment abortion ban – rather than reverse it completely.