Citing Donald Trump’s surprising victory, Ohio Republicans, passed a bill that bans abortion from the time a fetus’s heartbeat is detectable and may test the limits of constitutional protections of abortion.
The hardline Republicans say they are motivated by the new anti-abortion “heartbeat” bill that would ban terminations from as early as six weeks, the most severe restrictions in the country, and are poised to push the bill to a more friendly US supreme court that would uphold the law nationwide.
The bill, which was passed by the Ohio state legislature on Tuesday, bans abortion from the time a fetus’s heartbeat is detectable, which is usually around six weeks. The new law states that if a doctor terminates a pregnancy without listening for a heartbeat or when a heartbeat is audible, then the physician would be committing a fifth-degree felony and face up to a year in jail, disciplinary action, and civil lawsuits.
Many women do not even realize they are pregnant at this early stage.
“If this law would take effect, it really is a flat-out abortion ban,” said Amanda Allen, senior state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
“These types of bans are completely unconstitutional and have very little chance of standing up in court,” she added, noting that Roe v Wade has been settled law for over 40 years.
The lawmakers said that Trump’s election and a free seat on the supreme court gave them new impetus for the bill and make it more likely that the bill would be upheld in the courts.
“A new president, new supreme court appointees change the dynamic, and there was consensus in our caucus to move forward,” said senate president Keith Faber.
On Thursday, the Ohio state legislature passed another anti-abortion bill, which would ban abortion from 20 weeks. Allen noted that lawmakers may be pushing the “heartbeat” bill as a red herring while the other, also controversial measure flies under the radar.
“That could certainly be part of the strategy,” noted Allen. “Both bans are prohibitions on abortion prior to viability and the US supreme court has been very clear that states may not do that.”