Conservative lawmakers in Ohio reintroduced a bill to ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy by a transvaginal ultrasound, last week.
The bill, dubbed the “heartbeat bill,” passed the Ohio state House in 2011, but was not brought before the state Senate for a vote in 2012. Senate President Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond) told reporters that he wanted to focus on jobs and the economy instead of abortion. Niehaus has retired this year due to term limits, and conservative lawmakers believe that this a prime opportunity to resurrect the bill. State Representative Lynn Wachtmann (R) told reporters, “I wouldn’t introduce a bill if I didn’t think it could be done.”
Similar bills in North Dakota and Arkansas have been blocked by federal judges pending legal challenges. In March, the Arkansas state legislature overrode the governor’s veto of a bill that bans abortion once a heartbeat can be detected using an abdominal ultrasound, typically at 12 weeks gestation. That same month, the North Dakota governor signed a bill into law that outlaws abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, typically at six weeks gestation if a transvaginal ultrasound is used.
Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, told reporters, “Here we go again. A month after Gov. Kasich signed one of the worst anti-choice bills in the nation that is already closing abortion facilities, you’ve got this group coming back and saying, ‘No, no, no, that’s not good enough. You have to outlaw abortion before women even know they’re pregnant.’”
Media Resources: CityBeat 8/15/2013; Huffington Post 8/15/2013; Feminist Newswire 7/23/2013, 5/21/2013, 11/29/2012, 3/26/2012, 3/7/2013