News & Politics

Ohio Gov. Kasich Signs 20-Week Abortion Ban, Vetoes Heartbeat Bill

John Kasich (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a bill on Tuesday banning abortions after 20 weeks, but he also vetoed a stricter law which would have outlawed the practice from the moment of a baby’s first detectable heartbeat.

The heartbeat bill has received extra scrutiny, as a fetal heartbeat can sometimes be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy — before many women know they are pregnant. Detractors in Ohio feared the law would lead to a costly court battle, and Kasich shared the concern that it would be found unconstitutional.

“The State of Ohio will be the losing party in that lawsuit and, as the losing party, the State of Ohio will be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to cover the legal fees for the pro-choice activists’ lawyers,” Kasich declared. “Therefore, this veto is in the public interest.”

The 20-week ban is less controversial, as it follows similar bans in 15 states. Such bans are based on the assertion that babies can feel pain at that time. Ohio lawmakers rejected a Democratic amendment that would have added exceptions for rape and incest.

Predictably, abortion groups attacked Kasich for signing the 20-week ban. “The 20-week ban will force women to travel long distances and cross state lines in order to access safe, legal abortion — a barrier that many women simply cannot afford,” Planned Parenthood Action Fund Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said, according to the Associated Press. NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio said the ban would allow abortions only if a woman is on the brink of death or suffering permanent organ damage. (Imagine what they would have said had he signed the heartbeat bill!)

Ohio Right to Life praised Kasich for signing the ban, which it declared would save “hundreds of unborn lives each year.” The organization also echoed its president, Mike Gonidakis, who previously told PJ Media the 20-week ban would allow Ohio to challenge the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

This ban “challenges the current national abortion standard and properly moves the legal needle from viability to the baby’s ability to feel pain,” Gonidakis declared Tuesday after Kasich signed the bill. He agreed with the governor’s decision to veto the heartbeat bill.

Some Ohio pro-life activists criticized Kasich’s decision as effectively spineless, catering to leadership in the Ohio Senate.

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Ohio lawmakers have the option to override Kasich’s veto, which would require a three-fifths majority of each chamber.

Pro-life activists are primed for a big year ahead, with laws being considered in many states and a Republican majority in all branches of the federal government. In Congress, Republicans are expected to advance legislation banning most abortions after 20 weeks and halting federal funding for Planned Parenthood. President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to support both measures.