Ohio legislators have passed a controversial bill that would ban women from having abortions as early as six weeks after conception, NPR reports. The bill is dubbed the “Heartbeat Bill” because six weeks is around the time that a fetus’s heartbeat can be detected by a doctor.
The legislation, which doesn’t have exceptions for rape and incest, is currently sitting on the desk of pro-life Gov. John Kasich. He has 10 days to veto it or it will become a bonafide state law.
BuzzFeed reports that the legislation was tacked on at the last minute to House Bill 493, which addresses child abuse.
The American Civil Liberties Union told BuzzFeed that it is preparing to fight the ban if it becomes law.
“If Gov. Kasich signs that bill, we will absolutely challenge that in federal court,” Mike Brickner, senior policy director of ACLU Ohio, said. “We believe that it is unconstitutional.”
Opponents of the bill stress that it would essentially ban abortion in the Midwestern state, given that most women are unaware that they are pregnant until they have missed two periods, which happens at around eight weeks.
In a statement, Planned Parenthood wrote: “This bill could take away a woman's right to make her own medical decisions before she would have known she had a decision to make.”
The “Heartbeat Bill” is just one of many abortion restrictions in the state, including a requirement for an in-person meeting with a doctor followed by a 24-hour waiting period, limitations on the use of drugs to induce abortions and restrictions on clinics that provide abortion, NPR reports. Since these laws went into effect, nearly half of the abortion clinics in the state have shut down.
Kasich could also see another abortion bill land on his desk in the upcoming weeks.
Currently, the state Senate has passed Senate Bill 127, which would prohibit abortions at the 20th week of gestation, except those necessary to prevent serious health problems for the woman, CNN noted. The House may vote on it later this week.