On Tuesday, the Ohio General Assembly passed the controversial Heartbeat Bill, which makes abortions illegal in the state once doctors can detect a heartbeat in a fetus — usually around six weeks. The bill now awaits the signature of former Republican presidential candidate and current Ohio Governor John Kasich.
The Heartbeat Bill is considered one of the strictest in the country, as it outlaws abortions even in cases of incest or rape. The road to get the bill passed has been a long one for Republican lawmakers, as it was shot down over concerns the federal courts would rule it unconstitutional. However, Ohio Senate President Keith Faber told the Columbus Dispatch a new president and congress made it a little easier:
“A new president, new Supreme Court appointees change the dynamic, and there was consensus in our caucus to move forward… I think it has a better chance than it did before.”
The bill passed the Ohio House with a 21-10 vote after being added to another bill. While the House has approved it twice before, however, the bill never made it past the Senate. This changed on Tuesday when they passed the bill with a 56-39 vote. If it goes all the way, the new law would classify abortions as a fifth-degree felony and punish physicians performing the service without checking for a heartbeat, or after a heartbeat is detected, with up to one year in prison. Doctors could also face civil lawsuits from their patients, as well as further disciplinary action.