Gov. DeWine Argues Recent Abortion Restrictions Part Of Larger 'Pro-Life' Agenda

Dec 13, 2019

One of the first big pieces of legislation Mike DeWine signed as Ohio governor was a six-week abortion ban known as the "Heartbeat Bill." Almost a year into his tenure, DeWine said that law is only part of an overall agenda he’s pushing.

Just a few months after taking office, DeWine signed into law the controversial bill that bans abortions after the first fetal heartbeat, before many women know they're pregnant. But DeWine said he was always clear during the 2018 campaign that he supported and planned to sign the bill.

That could explain why the legislation, known formally as the "Human Rights Protection Act," moved so quickly through the Ohio General Assembly after being proposed repeatedly since 2011.

"That was certainly a bill that I wanted to sign. I'm proud I signed it," DeWine said in an interview for "The State of Ohio."

At the time it was one of the strictest anti-abortion bills in the country, but a court blocked it from taking effect after a legal challenge. 

More recently, Ohio made headlines with a recent proposal to ban all abortions, with the death penalty as a possibility for both doctors and women. It has no exceptions for rape or incest and could outlaw some popular forms of birth control.

The bill also may require a medically-impossible procedure to implant an ectopic pregnancy into a woman's uterus—an idea borrowed from a previous bill that would outlaw private insurers from offering coverage for abortion. That total abortion ban has 23 sponsors in the House, all Republicans.

Despite these proposals, DeWine said people shouldn't view the state as extreme.

“I don't think people will, not if look at what we're doing," Dewine said. "This is a pro-life administration. But I want to define pro-life."

He said that includes focusing on prenatal care and lowering what he calls "unacceptable" infant and maternal death rates. One of his first proposals was to dramatically increase a program that visits new mothers and infants.

DeWine won't say if he’d sign the total abortion ban if it passes. But he has said—and continues to say—that he wants to wait until current abortion laws make their ways through the courts. Anti-abortion activists say they hope the laws spark a U.S. Supreme Court challenge that overturns "Roe v. Wade."

“We need to wait and see what happens in the United States Supreme Court before we do anything else," DeWine said.