Ohio advances 'heartbeat' abortion bill, includes $20K fine for physicians who violate law

An Ohio House committee on Tuesday advanced a bill that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as eight to 10 weeks in some cases.

Cleveland.com reports Republican lawmakers also added a last-minute addition to the legislation that would impose a $20,000 fine on physicians who violate the law and perform abortions once a heartbeat is detected. Critics say many women do not yet know they are pregnant by that point. 

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The bill has already passed the GOP-controlled Senate and has now cleared its first hurdle in the House. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has previously said he would sign the legislation should it reach his desk.

Republicans hold a super-majority in the state House and are expected to approve the legislation, according to Cleveland.com.

The local news outlet also notes that the bill does not include any exceptions for abortions in the instances of rape or incest.

The “heartbeat” bill legislation is considered one of the toughest restrictions on abortions in the country, with Georgia recently passing a similar version of the law. Georgia’s bill is yet to be signed by Gov. Brian Kemp (R), and is expected to be challenged in court should he sign it into law.

Last month Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) signed a “heartbeat” bill into law that is set to go into effect in July, though abortion rights advocates have already said they will sue to block the bill. 

Challenges are expected in Ohio as well should the bill become law.