Ohio Senate OKs "heartbeat" legislation; could ban access to abortion

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Senate passed controversial legislation Tuesday that would ban abortions within weeks of conception.

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

The Ohio House must concur on amendments, and Gov. John Kasich would have to sign the bill, in order for the law changes to take effect.

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.

Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) 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 (D-Hubbard) added, “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.”

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