The Ohio Legislature Passed a 6-Week Abortion Ban in Just a Few Hours
The tide of anti-choice legislation in the United States continues to swell, and yesterday, in a matter of hours, Ohio’s House and Senate passed a so-called “heartbeat bill” that would effectively ban abortions after as early as six weeks after conception.
According to The Washington Post, the Ohio abortion ban comes in the form of the “heartbeat bill” that was attached yesterday to an unrelated piece of legislation. It bans abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected. That’s usually around six weeks in, which is earlier than many people even know they’re pregnant.
It’s worth noting that pregnancy length is calculated from the date of a person’s last period, which means a pregnancy is considered roughly two weeks along at the very moment of conception, assuming the person has a completely regular 30-day menstrual cycle, which many women do not. From the point of ovulation and conception, it takes about two weeks for a pregnancy test to come back positive–which is why so many people trying to get pregnant bemoan the frustrating “two week wait” between when they think ovulation and conception might have occurred and when they can take a pregnancy test to see if it did. At the “positive pregnancy test” point, a pregnancy is already considered to be four or five weeks along. This bill would cut off abortion access at six weeks. Many people would be past that deadline by the time they even realized their period was late.
CNN reports that a state Senator yesterday added the “heartbeat bill” as an amendment to a bill that was supposed to make it easier for medical professionals to report suspected instances of child abuse. Now, instead of being used to help children, that bill is being used to restrict abortion rights.
“I believe everyone has a right to their own body,” said state Senator Charleta Tavaras, a Democrat who told CNN that she had planned on voting for the bill in its original state. “We allowed a good bill that protects the health and safety of our children to be bastardized into a government takeover of women’s wombs.”
The bill will allow pregnancy termination after the “heartbeat point” if the mother’s life is in danger, but does not offer any exceptions in cases of rape or incest.
The bill is so extreme that even many pro-life groups suspect it won’t hold up to judicial scrutiny. It’s failed twice before. But anti-choice activists are feeling lucky lately. Ohio State Senator Keith Faber told The Washington Post that the bill was brought back for a third time because Donald Trump’s victory means he will fill the Supreme Court vacancies with pro-life justices.
After the Ohio Senate voted to attach the heartbeat amendment to the other bill, they voted to pass it. Then it went to the House, where it passed as well. Now the thing is sitting on the desk of Ohio Governor John Kasich. Now he has three options. He can veto the bill, at which point it would stop, but the House and Senate could override his veto if more than three-fifths of the representatives agree. He can sign the bill into law. Or he could do nothing, at which point in 10 days the bill would just become a law on its own.
The ACLU is already on the record as saying it will challenge the Ohio abortion ban in court if it becomes a law.