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Ohio Passes Anti-Abortion ‘Heartbeat Bill,’ Lawmakers Empowered by New President

Ohio lawmakers passed Tuesday the anti-abortion “Heartbeat Bill” that bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually at six weeks into the pregnancy. The Senate inserted the “heartbeat bill” into another legislation, House Bill 493, which focuses on medical professionals’ reporting of child abuse.
Photo showing aborted fetus Wikimedia Commons

Ohio lawmakers passed Tuesday the anti-abortion "Heartbeat Bill" that bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually at six weeks into the pregnancy.

The Senate inserted the "heartbeat bill" as an amendment into another legislation, House Bill 493, which focuses on medical professionals' reporting of child abuse. Republican Sen. Kris Jordan called for the amendment Tuesday morning.

"We in this chamber discuss the opportunities for children all in the context of education, medication and infant mortality. But through our inaction we ensure that some children won't have the most important opportunity of all -- the opportunity to live," Jordan said.

"We are a pro-life caucus ... The passage of this legislation in the Ohio Senate demonstrates our commitment to protecting the children of Ohio at every stage of life," Jordan said in a statement.

The Senate voted 21-10 in favor of H.B. 493 with the amendment. The House approved the bill Tuesday night.

The bill is now waiting for the approval of Gov. John Kasich, who has 10 days to veto the bill. If he signs it, Ohio will have the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.

Some groups, like Ohio Right to Life, are not too enthusiastic about the "heartbeat bill" being inserted into H.B. 493 because it would likely be struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

This is also the reason why Ohio lawmakers were previously hesitant to support it. So what made them change their mind this time?

There are several factors, and one of them is president-elect Donald Trump, according to Senate President Keith Faber.

Faber explained Trump now has the opportunity to appoint at least one conservative justice to the Supreme Court, a popular campaign promise that earned him the support of pro-life movements and individuals.

"He's changed the dynamic and there was a consensus in our caucus to move forward," Faber said, explaining that the "heartbeat bill" stands a better chance to survive a constitutional challenge now than it did before.

Michael Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, did not share the same sentiment as Faber. He said "overreaching" often results in the courts being "very fierce." He also said Trump can only appoint one conservative justice, which is still not enough to change the present 5-3 split that favors abortion rights.

"You have to be cautious in your approach and if you overreach the courts will set you back and be very fierce against you," Gonidakis said. "Of course we want to save every baby with a beating heart, but we have to deal with the U.S. Supreme Court that is not in our favor."

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said the "heartbeat bill" and others like it "punish women."

"Make no mistake - these bills punish women," she said. "We call on Governor John Kasich to veto these unconstitutional abortion bans."

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