Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday vetoed the controversial “heartbeat bill” and signed into law another bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
The heartbeat bill would have been the most restrictive abortion law in the nation, forbidding abortion at the point when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks of pregnancy. Most women don’t know they are pregnant until about eight weeks, or after they have missed two periods.
Identical measures in two states have been struck down by federal courts, which have cited the undue restriction on a woman’s right to an abortion at a point when most women don’t know they are pregnant. The Dispatch reports that Kasich himself had concerns about the constitutionality of the bill.
The so-called heartbeat bill was part of Ohio House Bill 493, which included changes to the law regarding the reporting of child abuse and neglect, and a $100,000 appropriation to create the Joint Legislative Committee on Adoption Promotion and Support. Kasich used a line-item veto to single out and remove the abortion language and signed the other portions of the bill into law.
Kasich also signed Senate Bill 127, an Ohio Right to Life-supported bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks because, according to the bill, the fetus can feel pain at that point.
According to the Dispatch, current state law forbids abortions after 24 weeks, and abortions at 20-24 weeks require a medical finding that the fetus is not viable. There are special exceptions for rape, incest and protection of the pregnant woman's life. Of the nearly 21,000 abortions performed in Ohio last year, only 145 of them happened after 20 weeks.
The new abortion regulations will take effect in 90 days, and it will be considered a fourth-degree felony for a physician to perform an abortion after 20 weeks unless it is to save the woman’s life. A conviction would result in the loss of the physician’s medical license and be punishable by up to 18 months in prison.
“I agree with Ohio Right to Life and other leading, pro-life advocates that S.B. 127 is the best, most legally sound and sustainable approach to protecting the sanctity of human life," Kasich said in a statement. According to the Dispatch, he described himself as working hard "to strengthen Ohio's protections for the sanctity of human life."
Read more at the Columbus Dispatch.