[JURIST] The Ohio Senate [official website] on Wednesday approved a bill [SB 72 text, PDF] that would limit the availability of abortions [JURIST news archive] after 20 weeks. The act, which was approved 24-8 by the Republican-dominated assembly, requires doctors to determine the viability of the fetus and seek a second opinion as to whether the child is capable of surviving outside of the womb. In the event that the fetus is viable, an abortion would only be made available if the woman faced “death or a substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” The Senate bill comes little more than a month after a legislative committee in the Ohio House of Representatives [official website] advanced [Columbus Dispatch report] the “Heartbeat Bill,” [HB 125 text], which would ban abortions after the point at which a fetus’s heartbeat becomes detectable in the womb. Ohio Right to Life [advocacy website], which strongly supports the Senate bill, has opposed the Heartbeat Bill on the grounds that it is likely to be overturned by courts due to Roe v. Wade [opinion text].
Ohio’s Senate bill is part of a wave of acts passed by state legislatures since the November elections aimed at restricting abortions in the wake of disputed medical evidence that suggests that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks [Reuters report]. On Tuesday, the Idaho legislature [official website] gave final approval to a bill [SB 1165 text, PDF] that would prohibit most abortions after 20 weeks. Last week, the Iowa House of Representatives [official website] approved a bill [JURIST report] that would prohibit doctors from performing late-term abortions in the state. Last month, the Kansas Senate [official website] approved legislation restricting late-term abortions, after the House of Representatives approved the measure [JURIST reports] in February. Also last month, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard [official website] signed into law [JURIST report] a bill requiring women to seek counseling at a pregnancy center and wait three days before obtaining an abortion. The Missouri House of Representatives [official website] in March voted in favor of legislation restricting late-term abortions [JURIST report] and imposing penalties on doctors who fail to comply with the new restrictions. The legislation, which is slated to become effective at the end of August, bans abortions of “viable” fetuses. The Oklahoma House of Representatives [official website] also voted in March to approve a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of gestation [JURIST report].