Earlier this week, the Ohio State Senate and House of Representatives passed a bill restricting abortion to before a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is about six weeks after conception. The so-called "Heartbeat Bill" was actually an 11th-hour add-in to House Bill 493, a larger measure that focuses on child abuse.
But while the bill has sparked concern and outrage across the country, another, troubling piece of legislation in Ohio has managed to slip under the public radar: Senate Bill 127, which seeks to "prohibit the performance of an abortion on a pregnant woman when the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child is twenty weeks or greater."
"These bills punish women"
Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement:
"After years of passing anti-abortion laws under the guise of protecting women's health and safety, they lay bare their true motives: to ban abortion in the state of Ohio. Politicians have no right to dictate Ohio women's personal medical decisions. Make no mistake – these bills punish women."
The ACLU of Ohio has called on its supporters to contact Ohio Gov. John Kasich to express their opposition to both SB 127 as well as HB 493. The group tweeted Tuesday, "if the unconstitutional #HeartbeatBill passes and becomes law, we will challenge it in court."
In a statement emailed to journalists, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio said:
For the second time in a week, the Ohio Legislature has inserted itself into women's private and personal health care decisions. These bans are a deliberate attempt to make abortion illegal in the state of Ohio. If signed into law, these bills would force women to travel long distances and cross state lines to access abortion.
For many women, the expense and time these restrictions would force upon them would make access impossible. These bans are rejected by Ohioans. That's why dozens of protesters immediately showed up to John Kasich's house on Tuesday to demand he veto these abortion bans. We're going to keep showing up, and we're going to keep fighting back. Ohio legislators need to listen and John Kasich needs to veto these dangerous bans.
Kasich is on the clock to approve bill
In Ohio, the governor has ten days after both houses approve a bill to either sign or veto it. Kasich has until December 16th to act on HB 493 and until December 28th for SB 127. If he does nothing, the bills will become law without his signature. Both bills were proposed, and passed, at the end of the state's House session, known as the "lame duck" period.
"A hallmark of lame duck is a flood of bills, including bills inside of bills and we will closely examine everything we receive," said Kasich's press secretary Emmalee Kalmbach.
Lawmakers emboldened by Trump victory
When asked what prompted the passage of SB 127 and HB 493, Ohio Senate President Keith Faber said, "One, a new president, new Supreme Court justice appointees change the dynamic, and that there was a consensus in our caucus to move forward."
When asked if he thought SB 127 would survive a legal challenge, he said: "I think it has a better chance than it did before."