Ohio Gov. John Kasich today vetoed the Heartbeat Bill forbidding abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected while signing into law a second bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
The second-term Republican previously had expressed concerns about the constitutionality of the Heartbeat Bill, which would have been the most restrictive abortion law in the nation.
Federal courts struck down identical measures in two states in finding it was an undue state restriction on a woman's right to an abortion at a point when some women do not realize they are pregnant.
“I agree with Ohio Right to Life and other leading, pro-life advocates that SB 127 is the best, most legally sound and sustainable approach to protecting the sanctity of human life," Kasich said in a statement.
With the Heartbeat Bill folded into House Bill 493, Kasich used his line-item veto to single out and remove the abortion language since it was accompanied by a $100,000 appropriation to create the Joint Legislative Committee on Adoption Promotion. He signed the other portion of the bill, dealing with child-abuse reporting requirements, into law.
Kasich approved banning abortions after 20 weeks by signing Senate Bill 127, an Ohio Right to Life-supported bill, that forbids termination of "a human pregnancy of a pain-capable unborn child."
So Ohio now joins 18 other states with 20 week bans, the point of which is to argue that a fetus could be viable at less than the current legal definition of legalized abortion, 24 weeks, thus overturning Roe v. Wade.
Often referred to as “20-week abortion bans,” these laws nominally seek to ban abortion after or around 20 weeks’ gestation, though bills in several states effectively ban abortion at 18 weeks. Legal experts believe these laws are unconstitutional on their face because they undermine a key provision of Roe v. Wade, which established the right to an abortion in the United States up until fetal viability, generally determined by doctors to be around 24 weeks’ gestation. Were the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold one of these bans, it would effectively dismantle the backbone of the court’s 1973 decision legalizing abortion in the United States. Anti-choice leaders have been open about their long-view strategy involving 20-week abortion bans—to persuade the high court to overturn the viability principle on which Roerests.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009 roughly 1.3 percent of all abortions performed in the United States were after 20 weeks’ gestation. There are many reasons women need abortions at this stage. A number of fetal and genetic anomalies cannot be identified until later in pregnancy, and some women find themselves facing pregnancies gone terribly wrong. Health conditions that threaten the woman’s life or health can develop at any point during a pregnancy. And a large share of women seeking abortions late in the second trimester do so because they face dramatically changed life circumstances or were unable to obtain an earlier abortion—a situation that’s increasingly common in states where laws are making abortion more expensive, more time-consuming, and more geographically inaccessible.
This is the real reason behind banning so-called "late term abortions". And now that pathway to overturning Roe rests with Donald Trump's selection to the Supreme Court, stolen wholesale from President Obama by the GOP.
Meanwhile, Kasich gets to burnish his moderate credentials, and the window for legal abortion procedures closes a bit more in the US.
Very soon I suspect it will be shut completely.