Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Signs Bill Banning Abortions When Unborn Baby’s Heartbeat Begins

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 11, 2019   |   3:51PM   |   Columbus, Ohio

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed the state heartbeat bill into law Thursday afternoon — making it the 6th state to ban abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat begins.

“Government’s role should be to protect life from the beginning to the end,” DeWine said before signing the bill.

The heartbeat bill passed the state legislature Wednesday. It would prohibit abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy. 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.

DeWine signed the bill Thursday despite threats by the American Civil Liberties Union to challenge it in court.

The pro-life governor made it clear in January that he would support a heartbeat bill. He told pro-lifers that the government’s job is to “take care of those who cannot take care of themselves,” including unborn babies.

DeWine acknowledged the likelihood of a lawsuit in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, but promised to fight for life anyway.

“Ultimately, this will work its way up to the United States Supreme Court. And they’ll make that decision,” DeWine said.

The head of Ohio Right to Life, Mike Gonidakis, stood with Governor DeWine as he signed the bill.

Afterwards, Gonidakis told LifeNews, “Pro-life Ohio thanks Governor DeWine for taking a courageous stand on behalf of unborn children with beating hearts. Governor DeWine continually stated throughout his campaign that he would sign the Heartbeat Bill, and he made good on that promise today. Ohio Right to Life thanks our legislative and statewide pro-life leaders for prioritizing this important legislation.”

The Heartbeat Bill, when it goes into effect, will prohibit abortion when a human heartbeat can be detected. An abdominal ultrasound can detect a heartbeat between eight and twelve weeks. A recent Marist Poll found that 80% of Americans want to limit abortions no later than three months of pregnancy (12 weeks), and another poll found that 56% of voters are in favor of Heartbeat Bills specifically.

State lawmakers came close to passing similar pro-life legislation in 2016 and 2018, but then-Gov. John Kasich vetoed both bills.

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If upheld the new law could save thousands of unborn babies’ lives. The Ohio Department of Health reported 20,893 abortions in 2017 in the state.

However, abortion activists may succeed in blocking the law before the state can enforce it.

“This legislation is blatantly unconstitutional and we will fight to the bitter end to ensure that this bill is permanently blocked,” said Freda Levenson with the ACLU of Ohio.

This year, pro-life lawmakers have introduced a number of heartbeat bills including in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas.

“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. “We look forward to working with him to further a culture of life in Ohio in the years to come.”

Kentucky also passed a heartbeat law this year, but a federal judge already has blocked it.

Some pro-lifers have renewed hope that the new conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court will uphold an abortion ban and overturn Roe v. Wade. Others, however, are hesitant because of concerns about losing the court battle and being forced to reimburse pro-abortion groups for their legal fees.

The Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe v. Wade, and instead allowed abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks. There is more hope that the new conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court may consider overturning Roe, 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.