Before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973, abortions were extremely dangerous. We've made progress since 1973, but many Americans are concerned about what Donald Trump's presidency will mean for reproductive rights. If a recent bill in Ohio is any indication, the future is not looking bright. The state's legislature passed a "Heartbeat Bill," which would make Ohio's abortion laws the strictest in America. Now, the bill heads to Gov. John Kasich, though it's not clear whether he will sign it or not.
According to Cleveland.com, the Ohio legislature passed a "Heartbeat Bill" that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy and sometimes even before the woman realizes she's pregnant. The "Heartbeat Bill" was slipped into a separate child welfare bill and passed through both the Ohio House and the Ohio Senate. If signed into law, Ohio would have the strictest abortion laws in the country.
But the outcome isn't clear yet. At this point, the bill has been sent to Gov. Kasich, who has said multiple times in the last two years that he opposes the bill for constitutional concerns. Arkansas and North Dakota both passed similar laws, and both laws were found unconstitutional.
In fact, even Ohio Right to Life has stayed away from the bill, warning that it will almost certainly be deemed unconstitutional as well. Similarly, anti-choice Sen. Bill Coley, one of three Republicans to vote against the ban, told Cincinnati.com, "The sad reality of this bill passing will be that we spend million of taxpayer dollars on attorney fees for a bill that has zero chance of becoming law."
With that said, why was the bill pursued this time? Senate President Keith Faber, a Republican, explained, "A new president, new Supreme Court appointees change the dynamic, and there was consensus in our caucus to move forward."
Similarly, Faith2Action president Janet Porter told the Columbus Dispatch that "it’s a brand-new day with a Trump-appointed Supreme Court and we are very hopeful … we will see babies with beating hearts protected again."
Of course, the bill has its critics. Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus Chair Kathy DiCristofaro called the bill "cruel and plainly unconstitutional." Iris Harvey, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, told NPR, "Not only is this shameful, but it's dangerous for women."
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper slammed Trump along with the bill. "When Donald Trump said 'there has to be some form of punishment' for a woman who makes a personal decision about whether or not to become a parent, Ohio Republicans took him seriously and literally," he said.
Kasich has the option to pass the child welfare bill in full with the abortion ban, to pass the child welfare bill but line-item veto the abortion ban, or to veto the bill altogether, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Kasich declined to comment on the bill, but his spokesperson told Cleveland.com Tuesday, "A hallmark of lame duck is a flood of bills, including bills inside of bills, and we will closely examine everything we receive."
Kasich has 10 days to decide on the bill.