Today, the Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 23, the Human Heartbeat Protection Act by a vote of 19-13.
State Senate Bill 23 would prohibit abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy, in Ohio. Because many women do not even know they are pregnant at this early stage, the legislation could protect almost all unborn babies in Ohio if it goes into effect.
On Tuesday, the Senate Health Committee passed the bill 8-4, and a vote in the full state Senate happened today, with a majority of legislators supporting the measure.
“Today our nation watched the Ohio Senate overwhelmingly vote in support of life with the passage of Ohio’s heartbeat bill. We believe that the heartbeat bill is the best vehicle to overturn Roe v. Wade and Ohio will be at the forefront of saving lives throughout our Nation,” Ohio Right to Life legislative director Mike Gonidakis told LifeNews.com after the vote. “Ohio Right to Life is grateful to witness the Ohio Senate take a principled stand and recognize that every baby with a beating heart deserves the right to live.”
He added: “This legislation is being introduced in state houses across the nation, but it all started right here in Ohio. We’re proud to be on the forefront of protecting the unborn, and we thank Senate President Larry Obhof for making this a priority. Ohio Right to Life looks forward to working with the Ohio House and to move swiftly on this crucial piece of legislation.”
State lawmakers came close to passing similar pro-life legislation in 2016 and 2018, but then-Gov. John Kasich vetoed both bills. This year, with Republicans in control of both state houses and new Gov. Mike DeWine saying he will sign the legislation, it appears likely to pass.
The legislation would not only protect unborn babies, it also would allow abortionists to be charged with a felony for aborting an unborn baby without checking for a heartbeat or for aborting an unborn baby whose heartbeat is detectable. The bill allows exceptions when the mother’s life is at risk.
If enacted, the bill could save thousands of unborn babies’ lives. The Ohio Department of Health reported 20,893 abortions in 2017 in the state.
However, NARAL, Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups oppose the heartbeat bill. They are expected to sue the state if it becomes law.
In January, Gov. DeWine said he “absolutely” would sign a heartbeat bill, even though the abortion industry will challenge it.
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“Ultimately, this will work its way up to the United States Supreme Court. And they’ll make that decision,” he said.
Pro-life lawmakers have introduced a number of heartbeat bills this winter, hoping for a victory with the new conservative majority U.S. Supreme Court. Similar bills are being considered in Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
The bills almost certainly will face legal challenges if they become law. In January, a judge declared Iowa’s heartbeat law unconstitutional.
The goal of the legislation is to prevent the deaths of thousands of unborn babies every year. However, even some pro-life advocates admit that the success of the legislation is uncertain. 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 its ruling on the six-week abortion 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.”
When courts rule against such laws, state taxpayers often are forced to reimburse pro-abortion groups for their legal fees.
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 – especially after Chief Justice John Roberts recently sided with the liberal justices on an abortion case.
Also on Tuesday, the Ohio Senate committee approved a pro-life resolution urging U.S. Congress to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would protect newborns who survive abortions by requiring that they receive basic medical care, according to the report.