The Ohio House of Representatives is expected to vote on the so-called “heartbeat bill” on Thursday, two years after outgoing Governor John Kasich vetoed the it (but signed another restrictive abortion law into effect). The governor-elect, Republican Mike DeWine, has previously said he would approve the bill if it comes across his desk. “I will sign the bill,” DeWine said during a gubernatorial debate. “I have said that many times.”
If passed, the measure would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can occur as early as six weeks—another demonstration of how abortion can effectively be criminalized without the repeal of Roe v. Wade. Previously, Kasich said it was “clearly contrary to the Supreme Court of the United States’ current rulings on abortion.” The heartbeat bill would also penalize physicians who provide abortions; the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that they could face a fifth-degree felony and up to a year in prison.
If the House of Representatives passes the bill, it will have to go to the Senate for another vote; the Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, speaking to Cleveland.com, did not say whether the Senate would hear it—but did say that a similar bill has been introduced to the Senate.
Ohio isn’t the first state to try and push a fetal heartbeat bill into law. Arkansas lawmakers passed a similar law in 2013, vetoing Governor Mike Huckabee’s previous veto. At the time, it was the nation’s most restrictive ban on abortion at 12 weeks. In early 2016, a case to challenge the law reached the Supreme Court, but the court declined to hear the case, uploading lower courts’ decisions to reject the law. Around that same time, the Supreme Court also ruled against a similar bill in North Dakota.
Update, 4:23 p.m.: On Thursday afternoon, the Republican-controlled Ohio House of Representatives voted 58-35 in favor of a six-week ban on abortion. The vote was split largely on party lines, Cleveland.com reports. It now moves on to the Senate.