Controversial bill to ban abortions within weeks of conception heads to Kasich

By Marc Kovac


The Ohio Senate and House approved controversial legislation Tuesday that would ban abortions within weeks of conception.

The Heartbeat Bill language was added to House Bill 493, which originally dealt with child abuse and neglect reporting, on a vote of 20-11, and the full legislation passed the chamber, 21-10.

The Ohio House concurred on the Senate amendments later in the evening on a vote of 56-39.

Gov. John Kasich still will have to sign the bill in order for the law changes to take effect. The amended bill includes an appropriation, meaning the governor could use his line-item veto authority to strike sections.

Republican Senate President Keith Faber told reporters that Donald Trump’s election as president and the resulting implications for the U.S. Supreme Court played a role in the decision to move ahead with passage of the Heartbeat Bill.

“There was a consensus in our caucus to move forward,” he said.

The Ohio House moved the Heartbeat Bill early in the session. The legislation would “generally prohibit an abortion of an unborn human individual with a detectable heartbeat.”

Proponents believe the legislation could serve as the vehicle to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Opponents say the bill is a further intrusion into women’s health decisions, and some abortion opponents are concerned that it could lead to court decisions undoing other abortion restrictions in current state law.

The Heartbeat Bill has been offered in three consecutive sessions of the general assembly. The first time, it passed the Ohio House but stalled in the Senate. The second time, the bill failed to gain the required support to move it any further.

On Tuesday, Sen. Kris Jordan, a Republican from Ostrander, moved to add the Heartbeat Bill language to HB 493.

“Very simply, in my opinion, it’s flat-out the right thing to do,” he said. “We have to continue pressing the pro-life cause because lives are literally on the chopping blocks.”

But Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd, said the amendment was out of order, offered on the second to last day of session. “This will be ruled unconstitutional,” Schiavoni said of the abortion restriction. “Other states have tried this, and the Supreme Courts in two other states ... have found this to be unconstitutional.”

Sen. Capri Cafaro of Hubbard, D-32nd, added later, “It is not government’s place to make these kinds of decisions for women or their partners or their families. ... We have no way of anticipating the reasons why women and their families and their doctors and their gods come to the decisions they make about their body to terminate a pregnancy.”