Ohio Legislature Considers Two Abortion Bans During Lame-Duck Session

Dec 12, 2018

Abortion is a big deal for Ohio lawmakers as they proceed through the lame-duck session of this legislature. There are two abortion bills that could end up on Gov. John Kasich’s desk soon.

The “Heartbeat Bill” that bans abortion at the point a fetal heartbeat is detected got another hearing before a House committee on Tuesday, but it didn’t get what its backers want: a vote. Committee chair Dave Burke delayed that while lawmakers examined some possible amendments to the controversial legislation.

Janet Folger Porter, a supporter of the bill, says the delay is unnecessary.

“This has been the most deliberated Heartbeat Bill in the country," Folger Porter says.

There are concerns about its constitutionality, even by some anti-abortion groups like Ohio Right to Life. The bill could ban abortions as early as six weeks, which is before many women even know they're pregnant.

Other states have passed similar heartbeat bills but they are not in effect because courts have struck them down. Folger Porter says that won’t be the case with Ohio’s bill if it passes.

“This is the bill that was crafted exactly for the Supreme Court," she explains. "It was meant from its birth, from its conception, to be before the court. Nothing else needs to be done to this and anything else is a delay that not only hurts its chances for override (of a possible veto by Gov. John Kasich), it can kill the bill and the babies it is meant to protect."

This is the second time in two years that Folger Porter has dealt with her bill in the waning days of the legislature. Two years ago, the bill passed the Ohio General Assembly only to be vetoed by Kasich. That could happen again since Kasich is promising to veto this bill.

The longer lawmakers delay the vote on the measure, the better, as far as Jaime Miracle with NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio is concerned.

“These delays make it much less likely that this bill will go into effect," Folger Porter says.

She knows Kasich has 10 days to veto the bill and the closer that gets to the holidays, the less likely it will be to get enough lawmakers to come back to vote for an override on that expected veto.

Miracle says her real concerns switches to the House where a committee has passed a different abortion bill to outlaw dilation and evacuation, a procedure that is commonly used at 12 weeks of gestation.

The legislation, which has already passed the Ohio Senate, could be passed by the full Ohio House before the end of this week. Miracle says it lacks safeguards to make sure pregnant women have options to protect their health due to the standard put forth in the bill.

“Severe and irreversible harm to a woman’s body is not a protection for her health. The doctor would have to wait until she was so far along that they may not be able to protect her health or her life," Miracle says.

Miracle calls on lawmakers to quit playing games with the abortion issue. She doesn’t think it’s an accident that the legislature appears prepared to send Kasich two abortion bills – one he will veto and the other he will sign.

That’s exactly what happened two years ago when Kasich vetoed a similar version of the “Heartbeat Bill.” He signed a different bill at the same time that bans abortions after 20 weeks.