The Ohio House on March 25 passed HB 69, called the Heart Beat Bill, which would ban abortions as soon as doctors can detect a heartbeat for a fetus. The proposed law as written does not make exceptions for rape or incest.
The bill has met opposition from both Democrats and even some pro-life Republicans, who fear it would not stand up to a Supreme Court challenge that would inevitably come from pro-choice groups. The Ohio American Civil Liberties Union has promised to file suit should the bill become law.
Ohio Right to Life, a prominent abortion foe, has raised concerns about that possibility, as has Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Some supporters of the measure, however, say they see the ensuing legal battle as a way to challenge the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision prohibiting abortion bans.
Fetal heartbeats can be detected by physicians as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The proposed law would slap doctors with a felony charge if they proceeded with an abortion after hearing a heartbeat.
Democrats have decried its lack of exceptions for rape or incest. “I’ve heard all these stories that just fit your scenario and I respect that, but you don’t respect my reason, my rape, my abortion,” said State Rep. Teresa Fedor of Toledo in a dramatic floor speech against the bill March 25 during which she revealed she had been raped and sought and abortion to end the resulting pregnancy. Fedor is a moderate Democrat.
Similar bills have failed to make it into law in the recent past. In 2011, the House passed another heartbeat bill that didn’t make it through the Senate. Another attempt last December failed to make it out of the House. Among those voting for the bill were state representatives Jonathan Dever of Madeira and Paul Zeltwanger of Mason, both Republicans.
The bill will now make its way to the state Senate, where it also faces opposition from Democrats and skepticism from some moderate Republicans.