Ohio Governor John Kasich has vetoed the so-called Heartbeat Bill, which would have banned abortion after a fetal heartbeat could be detected (roughly five to six weeks of gestation). The veto, however, is no victory for abortion rights in Ohio. As predicted, Kasich instead signed SB 127, a 20-week ban sponsored by Ohio Right to Life.
SB 127 has no exception for rape, incest, fetal anomalies, or the mental health of the woman. There is an exception for the life of the mother. Current state law forbids abortion after the 24-week mark and has exceptions for rape, incest, and the health of the mother. Ohio already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in America and this new ban is certain to further erode the reproductive freedom of the state’s women.
“I agree with Ohio Right to Life and other leading, pro-life advocates that SB 127 is the best, most legally sound and sustainable approach to protecting the sanctity of human life,” Kasich said in a statement. The Columbus Dispatch notes that this is the 18th abortion restriction that Kasich has signed into law. The Dispatch reports:
The new abortion regulations, which will take effect in 90 days, will make it a fourth-degree felony for a physician to perform an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy except to save a mother’s life. The felony is punishable by up to 18 months in prison. A conviction also would result in the loss of a physician’s medical license.
The 20-week ban has become a favorite of anti-choice groups. Earlier this month, Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against North Carolina challenging the constitutionality of the state’s 20-week ban, but similar bills have been introduced in numerous states. The president of Ohio Right to Life indicated that the 20-week ban is the next step for anti-choice groups seeking to legislate reproductive restrictions. He called this legislation a “game changer for the pro-life movement.”
In a statement, Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, warned against calling Kasich a “moderate.” “Don’t let John Kasich fool you,” Laguens said. “He is one of the most extreme anti-abortion governors in this country. Kasich is on a mission to make abortion illegal in Ohio, and he’s intent on using smoke and mirrors and backdoor politics to do it.”