COLUMBUS, Ohio – Abortions would be banned after 20 weeks under a bill that Republican lawmakers hoped to pass Thursday and add to legislation already on its way to GOP Gov. John Kasich that would prohibit abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.
The House Community and Family Advancement Committee voted Wednesday night to pass the 20-week ban, which now heads to the full House for consideration Thursday.
That follows House approval Tuesday night of the so-called heartbeat bill, clearing the way for what would be one of the nation’s most stringent abortion restrictions.
That legislation would prohibit most abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy after the first detectable heartbeat.
Kasich, an abortion-rights opponent, has previously voiced concerns about whether such a move would be constitutional. He has not said whether he plans to sign either measure.
Similar 20-week bans are on the books in 17 states, including South Dakota, whose governor signed it into law in March, and South Carolina, whose governor signed it in June. Arizona and Idaho’s bans are blocked from enforcement by the federal courts, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.
Earlier this week Republican lawmakers in New Jersey introduced a similar 20-week ban, with its outcome uncertain in that state’s Democrat-led Legislature.
Ohio’s proposed 20-week ban would allow for abortion in some cases to protect a woman’s life and health.
State Senate President Keith Faber, a Republican from Celina, said the twice-defeated heartbeat bill came back up again because of Republican Donald Trump’s presidential victory and the expectation he will fill Supreme Court vacancies with justices who are more likely to uphold stricter abortion bans.
Asked if he expects the Ohio proposal to survive a legal challenge, Faber said Tuesday: “I think it has a better chance than it did before.”
The ban would make an exception if the mother’s life is in danger but not in cases of rape or incest, he said.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio said the move would block access to abortion before most women even know they’re pregnant.
Federal courts have rejected similar heartbeat bills in Arkansas and North Dakota.
Under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling establishing a nationwide right to abortion, states were permitted to restrict abortion after viability – the point when the fetus has a reasonable chance of surviving under normal conditions outside the uterus.
The ruling offered no legal definition of viability, saying it could range from 24 to 28 weeks into a pregnancy.
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