Ohio legislature approves 'heartbeat' abortion bill

By Stephen Feller  |  Updated Dec. 7, 2016 at 7:04 AM
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COLUMBUS, Ohio, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The Ohio General Assembly approved a bill late Tuesday that would all-but-outlaw abortion in the state, sending it to Gov. John Kasich for a signature.

The state House approved the so-called "heartbeat bill" after it was added to another health bill by the state's Senate. If signed by Kasich, the law would make it illegal to perform an abortion once a fetal heartbeat has been detected -- about six weeks after conception.

Kasich is anti-abortion but has said in the past he was unsure the provision was constitutional. His office said he didn't have a comment on the bill late Tuesday.

In adding it to a health bill aimed at child abuse and requirements for reporting of neglect by healthcare providers, state Rep. Kristina Roegner said it made sense to combine the two.

"They are both about protecting children, both the born and unborn," Roegner said. "Today we can take a stand. We can stand up for the most innocent among us, the unborn. Today in Ohio, we put an end to the practice of killing babies while they're still in the mother's womb."

The bill includes exceptions for situations where a woman's life is in danger or if she could be significantly impaired without an abortion, which is a stronger exception than the one included in a bill barring abortions after 20 weeks that the Assembly has been considering since last year.

There is a chance Kasich will have two abortion bills to consider next week, the six-week bill and a 20-week abortion bill expected to be passed by the state House on Wednesday.

There's a chance both bills will be signed by Kasich, as the health bill passed Tuesday includes a provision allowing the governor to veto the abortion section but approve the rest of the relatively popular bill. He could then sign the 20-week ban separately, still placing limits on the availability of abortion services in Ohio.

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