Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio on Dec. 21 vetoed a bill that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, but today the Republican-led Ohio House of Representatives voted 60-28 successfully to override the governor’s veto.
The Ohio senate subsequently failed to override the governor’s veto Dec. 27, with just 19 senators voting in favor of the bill, with 20 votes needed for an override.
Democrats in the house reportedly argued that House Bill 258 is unconstitutional, an assertion with which Kasich ultimately agreed.
“As governor I have worked hard to strengthen Ohio’s protections for the sanctity of human life , and I have deep respect for my fellow members in the pro-life community and their ongoing efforts in defense of unborn life,” Governor Kasich wrote Dec. 21 in a message accompanying the veto.
“However, the central position of [the bill], that an abortion cannot be performed if a heartbeat has been detected in the unborn child, is contrary to the Supreme Court of the United State’s current rulings on abortion.”
Kasich went on to write that passage of the bill would result in a costly legal fight for the state of Ohio, which would result in the state losing and being forced to pay “hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover the legal fees for the pro-choice activists’ lawyers.”
Groups like Ohio Right to Life had previously remained neutral on the bill due to constitutional concerns, but today the pro-life group announced their full support for the heartbeat abortion ban.
Ohio Right to Life also announced their intention to send a new heartbeat bill to the governor’s desk during the next legislative session, now that the senate has failed to override the veto.
This is the second time Kasich has vetoed a bill of this kind, the first of which arrived on his desk two years ago.
This time around, the Ohio Senate passed an amendment clarifying that the bill would not require the use of a transvaginal ultrasound to detect a heartbeat, which would extend the period of pregnancy before a heartbeat can be detected. It removed language that would have allowed the state to suspend a doctor’s medical license before a crime related to abortion is proved in court, and made it clear that a pregnant woman who undergoes an abortion is not considered in violation of the law, but rather allows her to take civil action against the abortion doctor involved if it is proven he or she broke the law.
The law allows exceptions to prevent a woman’s death or bodily impairment, or in cases of medical emergency.
Local media reports that Kasich has signed at least 20 abortion-limiting measures into law since taking office in 2011, including a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, based on the point when an unborn child can feel pain.
The same day he vetoed the heartbeat bill, Kasich signed several measures related to abortion into law, including a ban on so-called “dismemberment abortions” that drew praise from pro-life advocates.
"Ohioans can sleep easier tonight, knowing that the horrendous practice of dismemberment abortions is behind us," Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, was quoted as saying.
Senate Bill 145, also signed into law Dec. 21, bans the dilation and evacuation abortion procedure, which involves the dilation of the cervix and extraction of the unborn child. The penalty for violating the new law could be fourth degree felony charges, prison time and fines.
Ten states have now passed bans on the common procedure, though nearly all the laws are facing legal challenges and are not currently in effect in eight of those states. Apart from Ohio, only Mississippi and West Virginia have currently effective “dilation and evacuation” bans, both of which took effect in 2016.
Ohio Governor-elect Mike DeWine, a fellow Republican who takes office in January, has reportedly expressed support for the passage of a heartbeat abortion ban.