Republican lawmakers in Ohio unveiled legislation Wednesday that would ban abortions of any fetus found to have a heartbeat, a move that could ban most abortions in the state.
Under legislation sponsored by State Representative Lynn Wachtmann, doctors would be forbidden from performing an abortion the moment a heartbeat is detected in the fetus. Fetuses generally develop a heartbeat within six weeks of conception, and in some pregnant women a heartbeat can be detected within 18 days.
The Youngstown Vindicator describes the bill as “the most restrictive abortion ban in the country” and potentially “a precedent for other states eyeing comparable restrictions.”
Robyn Marty at Alternet reports that the “heartbeat bill” amounts to an almost total ban on abortion.
For most women, [the law] would provide a window of two weeks or less in order to learn she was pregnant, make her decision about the pregnancy, arrange for an appointment, gather money for an abortion, obtain the mandatory counseling and sit through the required 24 hour waiting period. For a woman with irregular menstrual cycles, by the time she realizes she is pregnant it likely would already be too late to do anything but continue the pregnancy.
Legal experts say the bill challenges Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in the US. That ruling set the standard that a pregnant woman can abort a fetus until it is “viable,” meaning capable of living outside the womb. But since a fetus develops a heartbeat long before it becomes “viable,” the proposed Ohio law challenges that standard.
That prompted Case Western Law School professor Jessie Hill to call the bill “symbolic legislation … that’s clearly unconstitutional,” reported the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The Plain Dealer noted that, with last fall’s elections, all three branches of Ohio’s state government are under Republican control, making the state a prime candidate for experimentation with a socially conservative agenda.
“What they’re doing is trying to push the point at which the woman’s rights are subordinated to those of the unborn to a much earlier point in pregnancy,” Laurence H. Tribe of Harvard Law School told ABC News. “It’s clearly a frontal challenge to Roe v. Wade.”
Rep. Wachtmann did not deny that that was his goal in comments Wednesday.
“As technology improves in medicine, as it continually does, that protection will move closer and closer to conception, which is I think for many of us what our ultimate goal of protecting life is,” he said.
Wachtmann’s Ohio House web page says he’s involved in the NRA and the Ohio Right to Life Society, and was a recipient of the Ohio Right to Life Defender of Life Award.
The Plain Dealer noted that the “heartbeat bill” is only one of five anti-abortion measures put forward in the Ohio state legislature since the start of the new session.
Another GOP bill introduced last week would ban late-term abortions at 20 weeks. A separate measure would exclude abortion coverage under the new federal health care law, and another would apply stricter parental consent rules for teenagers wanting abortions.
Under current law, minors do not need parental consent if they can convince a juvenile court to allow the abortion. While Ohio has a ban on what critics call partial-birth abortions, women can have abortions by other methods through the ninth month of pregnancy.
Legislators from Georgia and Texas have already asked for copies of Ohio’s bill so they can introduce similar bills in their own states, the Plain Dealer reported.
Women are making Trump ‘melt down’ — or turn tail and run: columnist
President Donald Trump doesn’t like being challenged by any media figures, even if they are conservative white males like Fox News’ Chris Wallace or The Bulwark’s Bill Kristol. But female reporters, in particular, seem to rattle Trump, as journalist Jack Shafer argues in an op-ed published in Politico this week.
Shafer describes a pattern, explaining, “It starts with a reporter, usually a female reporter, asking President Donald Trump hard, tenacious questions at a news conference. Trump’s jaw seizes up, rattled and dumbfounded by the questions that he can’t or won’t answer. He abruptly ends the presser by saying, ‘Thank you very much’ and stalking out of the room.”
‘Silence is complicity’: GOP condemned for doing nothing as Trump openly touts sabotage of postal service
"Donald Trump knows that if the people are heard in November, he and Republicans up and down the ballot will lose," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren. "This is what we're up against—and this is why we have to fight back with all we've got."
Voting rights advocates on Thursday took aim at Republicans in Congress for remaining silent in the face of President Donald Trump's open admission that he is blocking funding for the U.S. Postal Service with the express purpose of stopping an expansion of mail-in ballot access ahead of the November elections.
Mitch McConnell continues to be haunted by this Confederate flag photo – but he says he has no regrets
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell explained the origins of an infamous photograph of himself standing in front of a Confederate flag.
The photo has circulated for years, and it's believed to have originated in the early 1990s at an event held at Big Spring Country Club by the Louisville-based John Hunt Morgan Camp 1342 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, reported the Courier-Journal.