The Ohio House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday that could result in one of the toughest and most restricting abortion laws in the country.
If signed into law, House Bill 125, sponsored by state Rep. Lynn R. Wachtmann (R), would make abortions illegal after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which usually occurs around six weeks after conception. The bill needed 50 votes to pass, and with 48 co-sponsors and most Republicans in favor of it, it passed with a vote of 54-43 in the GOP-controlled house.
Though the GOP also controls the senate in Ohio, it is still unclear whether or not it will pass there also.
Two other abortion-related bills passed the Ohio house on Tuesday: one that forbids post-viability procedures (after 20 weeks if a doctor determines the fetus' viability for life outside the womb) and another that will prevent abortions from being covered by insurance plans through the health-insurance exchange in Ohio under new federal health care law. The Columbus Dispatch reports that Bill 125 is drawing heavy criticism from abortion rights groups, in part because they say that most women aren't even aware that they're pregnant at six weeks.
In a press release on her organization's site, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio's executive director, Kellie Copeland, spoke out aggressively about the bills that had passed.
“Today the Ohio House passed three pieces of legislation that combined would virtually outlaw abortion in our state,” she said. “This is a far cry from the focus on jobs and the economy that they promised voters. As long as they continue to wage War on Women, we will make sure they are held accountable for attacking women’s freedom and privacy.”
Meanwhile, the former legislative director for Ohio Right to Life, Janet Folger, has called the measure “the most protective legislation in the nation."
Those in support of this bill are anticipating court appeals, as it challenges the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade which says that states cannot ban abortions before the fetus is viable.
Though some pro-life proponents are celebrating the bill, others, like the Ohio Right to Life organization, are being more cautious and say that the bill is “the right idea at the wrong time.”
In an article on its website, the organization outlines reasons why they fear that this bill, which they state lacks “legal authority or results,” could actually prove to be a setback for the pro-life cause. They anticipate that there is an insufficient number of votes on the current U.S. Supreme Court in their favor to overturn the 1973 decision, resulting in “another precedent setting decision ... we will have to overcome in the future.”
Their conclusion? “We believe that such a proposal at this time will have negative and unintended consequences. Ohio is best served by preserving our current state laws and enacting a ban on late term abortions. This is the responsible next step in overturning Roe v. Wade.”
According to Reuters, Ohio Rep. Danny Bubp (R) said that voters, overall, wanted the bill to pass, pointing out that they voted a Republican majority into the state house last November.