COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — Ohio senators passed a bill to outlaw abortions by banning the procedure once a heartbeat is identifiable
The bill would in essence ban abortion in the state, since a child's heartbeat can be evident in gestation as early as six weeks, making Ohio one of the strictest in the nation.
The move was in a last-minute floor amendment added to an unrelated bill (House Bill 493), which updates laws governing medical professionals’ responsibilities for conducting exams and reporting suspected child abuse and neglect.
The proposal makes no exceptions for victims of rape or incest, only to save the life of the mother.
Only two states have passed fetal heartbeat bans -- Arkansas and North Dakota. Both were later deemed unconstitutional by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Both laws are on hold as the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals.
If passed, the charge would be a fifth-degree felony with a maximum one-year prison sentence, for a physician to perform an abortion without checking for a fetal heartbeat or conducting the procedure after it is identifiable. The doctor also could liable for a civil lawsuit from the mother as well as disciplinary action.
The Ohio House, which earlier approved the so-called “Heartbeat Bill,” should receive the full bill in the coming days. If they pass it, it will then go to Governor John Kasich, who will decide whether to approve or veto the legislation.
The Republican governor is against abortion, but Senate Democrats believe the bill, if passed, would be struck down by the Supreme Court.