The Ohio Senate approved the “Heartbeat Bill” that would ban abortion on fetuses after a heartbeat is detected.
The legislation would “generally prohibit an abortion of an unborn human individual with a detectable heartbeat.”
The bill includes exceptions for medical emergencies or medical necessities.
It also includes a rule that a physician would need to meet with the pregnant woman seeking an abortion at least 24 hours before the procedure to “give her an adequate opportunity to ask questions about the abortion.”
Prior to the abortion, the woman would need to sign a form consenting to the procedure and indicating that she received information about the procedure, and that she consents to the abortion “voluntarily, knowingly, intelligently, and without coercion by any person and she is not under the influence of any drug of abuse or alcohol.”
Republican state Rep. Candice Keller previously said that the bill would save 20,000 babies from being aborted every year in the state.
The Ohio Senate passed the bill 18-13 on Dec. 12. It would need 20 votes to override a potential veto by Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who vetoed a similar bill in 2016. He had signed another bill that banned abortions after 20 weeks of gestation except if a mother’s life was in danger.
Kasich said in November that he would veto the heartbeat bill.
The Senate made some amendments, primarily giving women more time to choose to end their pregnancy. Under the House version, abortions were prohibited as soon as six weeks, or as soon as a transvaginal ultrasound detected a heartbeat.
But Senators changed the language to clarify that other forms of heartbeat detection technology were allowed. Abdominal ultrasounds, the other common imaging technology, detects heartbeats at around 12 weeks.
“It’s my understanding a transvaginal ultrasound could possibly detect a heartbeat earlier than an external heartbeat detection method,” Sen. David Burke, who was behind the amendment, told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
“But we found that process is possibly intrusive. We wanted to protect the rights of women who didn’t wish to have that done to them because their doctor may be under the impression that that’s the only thing that bill allows.”
The bill will need approval from the House due to the amended language before heading to Kasich.
Once a bill passes both the House and the Senate, it takes several days to land on the governor’s desk; he then has 10 days to sign it or veto it. If he does neither, the bill becomes law.
If Kasich vetoes the bill, the Senate can override the veto with 20 votes.
Gov.-elect Mike DeWine, who will enter into office next year, has indicated support for the idea behind the bill but not the specific bill.
The 132nd Ohio General Assembly officially ends Dec. 31 as lawmakers work to push through bills during the so-called “lame duck” session. The House could pass the amended heartbeat bill as soon as Thursday.