Update, April 11, 4:11 PM (CST): This post has been updated to include Gov. DeWine signing the heartbeat bill into law.
COLUMBUS, April 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Ohio legislation to ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected finally became law Thursday, after a lengthy battle last year came up one vote short of overcoming a veto by the state’s previous governor.
Senate Bill 23 would ban aborting any baby once a heartbeat can be detected (around 6-8 weeks), except in cases of a physical threat to the mother. Violating physicians would face up to a year in prison and suspension or revocation of their medical licenses (with medical board fines going to finance foster and adoption services). Women would also be able to sue abortionists for wrongful death.
The legislation passed the state Senate in March, and passed the state House Tuesday on a 56-40 vote, Cleveland.com reports. Ohio's Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed it later that afternoon, WOSU reports.
“The essential function of government is to protect the most vulnerable among us, those who don't have a voice,” DeWine declared. “Government's role should be to protect life from the beginning to the end.”
“Today is a historic day. The legislature and Governor DeWine have declared that no longer should the beating hearts of humans too young to be born be violently torn apart by abortion,” Mark Harrington, president of the pro-life group Created Equal, said in a statement. “If pro-abortion lobbies present a legal challenge to this Act, we will defend these babies all the way up to the Supreme Court. Changes on the bench signify an even better day for preborn babies may be on the horizon.”
Democrat state Rep. Beth Liston, who is a physician and a professor at Ohio State University, denied that preborn babies are alive by week 12. “Simply put, you need lungs and a brain in order to live,” she claimed. “And there’s no science or technology that we have that can replace that need.” In fact, settled biological criteria and numerous medical textbooks establish (and various abortionists admit) that a living human being is created upon fertilization and is present throughout the entirety of pregnancy.
As protesters loudly gathered outside the chamber, Democrats tried and failed to add multiple amendments to the bill, including rape and incest exceptions and a proposal by state Rep. Janine Boyd to specifically exempt black women from the ban, ensuring black babies would still be legally killable.
The legislature passed a nearly-identical heartbeat ban last year, but came one vote short of overriding a veto by former moderate Republican Gov. John Kasich, who claimed it was “contrary to the Supreme Court of the United States’ current rulings on abortion” and therefore wouldn’t be worth the cost of a drawn-out legal battle. His successor DeWine previously vowed he would “absolutely” sign it into law.
Numerous states have introduced or enacted heartbeat bills over the past several months. They ban abortion much earlier than the “viability” standard set by Roe v. Wade, which some cite to claim the bills would waste time and money on a doomed legal battle. But supporters argue that most state pro-life measures get sued anyway, and that the heartbeat ban will force a Supreme Court review that could finally overturn the 1973 ruling.
“Will there be a lawsuit? Yeah, we’re counting on it,” Republican state Rep. Ron Hood said. “We’re excited about it. Because this will be the law that ultimately reverses Roe v. Wade. Or there is several things they could do. They could hand it down to the states.”
The Ohio chapter of the left-wing American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has already declared it will sue to block the law from taking effect, representing Planned Parenthood's two Ohio affiliates plus abortion centers in Cleveland and Dayton.