April 11 (UPI) -- Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed the state's so-called "heartbeat" abortion bill, enshrining into law one of the country's most restrictive abortion bans.
The law outlaws abortions after doctors are able to detect a fetal heartbeat, in effect banning the procedure after the sixth week of pregnancy. The only exceptions will be if the woman's life is in danger, but not in cases of rape or incest.
"The essential function of government is to protect the most vulnerable among us, those who do not have a voice," DeWine said during the signing ceremony at the Statehouse in Columbus. "Government's rule should be to protect life from the beginning to the end, to protect those who cannot protect themselves. ... The signing of this bill today is consistent with that respect for life."
Critics of the law say the six-week cutoff occurs before many women know they're pregnant. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio called the law "among the most radical in the nation."
"It was designed to oppress women," the organization said.
The ACLU of Ohio promised to challenge the new law with a lawsuit, calling the ban unconstitutional.
Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi and North Dakota have enacted similar "heartbeat" abortion bans.