Yesterday Governor John Kasich of Ohio signed into law a 20 week abortion ban, vetoing the “heartbeat bill” that had the potential to outlaw abortion as early as six weeks gestation based off the first detectable heartbeat. While this political maneuvering was done in an attempt to appear “moderate”, both bans do not meet the constitutional standard set in Roe v. Wade.
Anti-abortion advocates and lawmakers see the 20 week ban as their chance to reopen and challenge Roe v. Wade, which explicitly ruled that states cannot outlaw abortion until the fetus is developed enough to survive outside the womb, around 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The twenty week bill holds its grounding in the scientifically unproven assumption that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks. Additionally, the ban does not encompass any exceptions for rape or incest, only limited exceptions if the women’s life is in dire risk.
Though Kasich vetoed the more extreme bill, his record on abortion rights is far from moderate. Since Kasich took office more than half of the abortion clinics in Ohio have closed. He has signed into law 17 anti-abortion measures during his time as governor, including major budget cuts for Planned Parenthood and a ban on referrals to abortion clinics by state-funded rape crisis counselors.
According to the Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, Kelli Copeland, Governor Kasich is “treating women’s health care like a game” and his decision “will fall hardest on low-income women, women of color, and young women.”
Ohio is not the only state to pass a 20 week ban on abortions. As of now, 15 states have restrictions on later abortions at 20 weeks post fertilization, including South Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas.