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Pro-Choice Groups: Kasich "Playing Games" with Women's Health

A 20-week abortion ban signed by Ohio's Governor sets the stage for a challenge to Roe v. Wade.(William Murphy/Flickr)
A 20-week abortion ban signed by Ohio's Governor sets the stage for a challenge to Roe v. Wade.
(William Murphy/Flickr)
December 14, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Saying it's the "most legally sound and sustainable approach to protecting the sanctity of human life," Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday approved a ban on abortions after 20 weeks. The governor also vetoed the so-called "heartbeat bill," that would have restricted abortions beyond six weeks when a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

Kellie Copeland, executive director of the group NARAL Pro-Choice, which opposed both measures, said there's nothing to celebrate.

"Governor Kasich is playing games with women's health," she said. "He thinks that if he vetoes one measure and signs another, that Ohioans won't notice that he has enacted the 18th restriction on access to women's reproductive health care."

The anti-abortion group Ohio Right to Life said the new law will save hundreds of unborn lives each year, but opponents argue it's dangerous legislation that threatens women's health. The measure sets the stage for a legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case which allows a woman to terminate a pregnancy before the viability of a fetus, at about 24 weeks.

Lisa Wurm, policy manager for the ACLU of Ohio, contends the 20-week ban is unconstitutional and interferes with health decisions that should remain between a woman and her doctor.

"However we feel about abortion at different points in a pregnancy, a woman's health should absolutely drive these medical decisions," she said. "Politicians are not medical experts, and this is not where they should be interfering."

President-elect Donald Trump has promised to support measures in Congress that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks, and to cut funding for Planned Parenthood if it performs the procedure. Copeland is telling pro-choice supporters to remain vigilant.

"Ohio women who need access to abortion later in pregnancy, they really are the first victims of the Trump presidency," she added. "And people who support access to abortion and reproductive health care will need to step up and fight in the days and weeks ahead."

Twenty-week abortion bans are already in place in more than a dozen states, but federal judges have found them unconstitutional in two states.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH