Kasich Vetoes Ohio’s ‘Heartbeat Bill,’ Signs 20-Week Abortion Ban
Ohio governor John Kasich has just vetoed the so-called “Heartbeat Bill” that would effectively have banned abortion in Ohio at just six weeks of pregnancy, which is well before most women could even know they were pregnant. Unfortunately, that’s not the victory for abortion rights that one might expect. The “Heartbeat Bill” was so extreme and unconstitutional that even Ohio anti-abortion advocates–like Kasich–didn’t really think it could survive a challenge in the courts. And while vetoing that bill, Kasich signed one that bans abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy and later, which is a subtler and more effective way of chipping away at abortion rights.
Roe v. Wade says that states can’t restrict abortion rights until the point a fetus would be viable outside the womb. Many fights have occurred over what “viable” means, but it’s generally around 24 weeks from the woman’s last period.
According to Cleveland.com, the 20-week ban that Kasich just signed into law is called the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” and it bars abortion after 20 weeks, save for a narrow exception if the pregnant woman’s life is in danger.
The bill is specifically designed to chip away at Roe v. Wade by going after the “viability” language. Anti-abortion groups in Ohio argue that “viability” was a different thing in 1973, and that using it as a standard is “archaic.” The goal is to adjust the standard at which the state can intervene in a woman’s right to choose, thus reopening Roe v. Wade and opening a path to letting states get involved in limiting abortion even earlier.
“The time has come for this archaic line which is viability and Roe to end,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, to Cleveland.com’s Robert Higgs. “As science continues to develop and as public opinion continues to change we’re going to continue to chip away at Roe.”
As it stands, Ohio’s 20-week abortion ban would take effect in 90 days unless it is challenged in court. NPR reports that 15 other states have 20-week abortion bans in effect.
In slightly better news, Ohio’s Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a law that required doctors working at abortion clinics to have hospital admitting privileges.