Ohio governor vetoes ‘heartbeat bill,’ signs 20-week abortion ban

Ohio governor vetoes ‘heartbeat bill,’ signs 20-week abortion ban

[JURIST] Ohio Governor John Kasich [official profile] signed a 20-week gestation limit [text, PDF] for abortions into law Tuesday, while also vetoing the “Heartbeat Bill” [text, PDF], which would have banned abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable. The Ohio Legislature had passed the bill [JURIST report] earlier this month, but Kasich has expressed concern over its constitutionality.

As governor I have worked hard to strengthen Ohio’s protections for the sanctity of human life, and I have a deep respect for my fellow members of the pro-life community and their ongoing efforts in defense of unborn life. Certain provisions that were amended into Am. Sub. HB 493, however, are clearly contrary to the Supreme Court of the United States’ current rulings on abortion. Similar legislation enacted in two other states has twice been declared unconstitutional by federal judges, and the Supreme Court declined to review those decisions. … The State of Ohio will be the losing party in that lawsuit and, as the losing party, the State of Ohio will be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to cover the legal fees for the pro-choice activists’ lawyers. Furthermore, such a defeat invites additional challenges to Ohio’s strong legal protections for unborn life. Therefore, this veto is in the public interest.

Ohio Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, released a statement [press release] supporting the governor’s decision: “The 20-week ban was nationally designed to be the vehicle to end abortion in America.” Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, raised issues [press release] with the 20-week bill: “The 20-week ban will force women to travel long distances and cross state lines in order to access safe, legal abortion—a barrier that many women simply cannot afford.”

Abortion and reproductive rights issues have been prominent issues in the US courts and states. The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) filed a lawsuit earlier this week challenging new Texas regulations[JURIST report] that would require the burial or cremation of aborted fetal remains. Also, Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and other women’s groups filed suits challenging abortion laws [JURIST report] in Alaska, Missouri and North Carolina. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled in October [JURIST report] that a state law adding new licensing and inspection rules for facilities that perform abortions is unconstitutional.