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DeWine Signs Heartbeat Bill; Opponents: "We'll See You in Court"

Opponents of Ohio's so-called Heartbeat Bill say many women don't realize they are pregnant until after six weeks. (Johannes Jander/Flickr)
Opponents of Ohio's so-called Heartbeat Bill say many women don't realize they are pregnant until after six weeks. (Johannes Jander/Flickr)
April 12, 2019

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio now has one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the United States. Senate Bill 23, the so-called "Heartbeat Bill," prohibits abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which is about six weeks.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine quickly signed the bill on Thursday, a day after it was approved by the Legislature.

"The essential function of government is to protect the most vulnerable among us, those who do not have a voice,” said DeWine. “Government's role should be to protect life from the beginning to the end."

Chrisse France, executive director of reproductive health-care provider Preterm-Cleveland, counters that a woman's right to bodily autonomy also should be protected.

"For years, Ohio politicians have ignored and undermined voices of people who really matter in this conversation about abortion – the women and people who have abortions, and who need access to them in future," says France.

Preterm-Cleveland will be among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit to be filed by the ACLU of Ohio challenging the measure. The groups contend the ban violates the Constitution and undermines the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the 1973 case 'Roe versus Wade.'

Doctors who violate Ohio's new ban would face a fifth-degree felony charge and up to a year behind bars. There are no exceptions for rape or incest, only an exception to save a woman's life.

France notes it's crucial for Ohioans to understand that abortion is still legal.

"When people hear stuff like this on the news, they think automatically that they can't have an abortion, and that is not true," says France. “We're still providing services up to our legal limit, and we will continue to serve the people of Ohio."

Six other states have approved fetal heartbeat bills, none of which has gone into effect due to legal challenges. Similar legislation is pending in 11 other states.

This story was produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH