By JO INGLES & KAREN KASLER
For the third time, a bill that bans abortion from the point a fetal heartbeat is detected has passed the Ohio House and Senate. But this time will likely be the last for what’s been called the “Heartbeat Bill”, because Gov. Mike DeWine says he’ll sign it into law.
Protestors against the bill gathered outside the House before the vote, and were joined by a smaller group of supporters of the measure – and shouted and chanted before and throughout the session.
One by one, lawmakers inside the chamber spoke out. Some Democrats shared their personal stories of unplanned pregnancies or abortion.
Rep. Allison Russo (D-Columbus) told a story about her great-grandmother’s experience in the days before Roe vs Wade.
“She attempted to give herself an abortion and it went horribly wrong and she bled to death in that bathtub and died,” Russo said.
Others talked of their faith.
Rep. Tim Ginter (R-Salem), who is also an ordained minister, read verses from the Biblical book of Jeremiah.
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart. I appointed you a prophet to the nations. My question would be this: why would God call and appoint a mass of cells to be a prophet before he was born?” Ginter asked.
Rep. Candice Keller (R-Middletown), a staunch abortion opponent who runs a pro-life pregnancy center, told her fellow lawmakers this bill was based on science.
“Modern science is clear on this and to ignore a heartbeat is to deny the scientific evidence and to deny such evidence is heartless,” Keller said.
Rep. Beth Liston (D-Worthington), a physician and internal medicine professor at Ohio State University, countered that saying a fetal heartbeat is not a standard of defining life in medicine.
“Simply put, you needed lungs and a brain in order to be able to live and there’s no science or technology that we have that can replace that need,” Liston said.
But all of the debate didn’t seem to change minds. Republicans mostly voted for it – Democrats mostly voted against it.
As soon as the bill passed the House, the Senate immediately convened to vote to agree with the House’s changes to it. Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Ashland) says this bill had plenty of scrutiny.
“This was a reasoned, measured approach that has been thoroughly that has been debated in the legislature than perhaps any bill ever,” Obhof said.
The bill passed twice during Gov. John Kasich’s eight-year term and he vetoed it both times – most recently last year. Gov. Mike DeWine says he will sign the bill and once he does, it’s almost certain it will be challenged in court – something its backers, such as Rep. Ron Hood (R-Ashville) welcome.
“Will there be a lawsuit? Yea, we are counting on it. We’re counting on it. We’re excited about it,” Hood said.
Similar bills have passed in several other states but courts have stopped the bans from taking effect.