Ohio Lawmakers Put 'Heartbeat Bill' On Hold

Dec 7, 2018

The so-called "Heartbeat Bill," which Gov. John Kasich promises to veto, was expected to come up for a vote Thursday in an Ohio House committee. But there were too many questions about the controversial bill, which would ban abortions at the point a fetal heartbeat is detected, for it to proceed to a vote.

The head of the Ohio Senate committee considering the Heartbeat Bill, state Sen. Dave Burke, said lawmakers decided to delay passage because they needed to consider last-minute amendments. But he said this bill is still viable and could come back either as a stand-alone bill or part of another.

"My job is to get this bill through committee, and I will be back next week to do just that," Burke said.

This delay is important because Kasich is promising to veto the bill, just like he did a similar bill two years ago. Kasich has 10 business days to do that.

It could end up that lawmakers, who say they have the votes to override Kasich's veto, would not be able to reconvene enough members over the holidays.

Ohio House Speaker Ryan Smith said he wasn't sure how many members of his chamber would be able to come back to deal with a veto override during the holidays. He noted two members said they'd come back to do it on Christmas Day if necessary.

Still, Jaime Miracle with NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio says she’s concerned.

“This isn’t the only unconstitutional abortion bill this legislature is still considering," Miracle said.

Miracle says lawmakers could end up passing a ban on abortion at 12 weeks into a pregnancy or a bill that requires burial or cremation of fetal remains. Either could be stand-alone bills or as part of what’s known as a "Christmas Tree" bill, which is adorned with a lot of other bills and passed in one swoop.

In past years, Christmas Tree bills have proven popular in the lame duck legislature.