Ohio legislature sends 'heartbeat' abortion bill to governor's desk

Ohio lawmakers on Wednesday sent a "heartbeat" abortion bill to Gov. Mike DeWine's (R) desk, that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The Ohio House passed the bill 56-40, largely along party lines, followed shortly after by the state Senate, which voted 18-13 to agree to changes made in the House to the legislation, Cleveland.com reported Wednesday. 

DeWine is expected to sign the bill after saying in his gubernatorial campaign that he would such legislation, according to the outlet. The bill would ban abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

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If the bill becomes law, doctors who perform abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected could be subject to a $20,000 fine from the State Medical Board of Ohio and could have their medical licenses suspended or revoked. Doctors could also face a fifth-degree felony, according to the outlet, which would be punishable by up to six to 12 months in prison and a $2,500 fine.

The bill does not have exceptions for rape or incest, but does include one if the mother's health is in jeopardy. 

A poll from Baldwin Wallace University found Ohioans split on the issue, with 43 percent opposing the ban and 41 percent supporting it, the outlet reported.  

North Dakota, Arkansas, Kentucky, Iowa and Mississippi have passed heartbeat bills, but many of them have been challenged and courts have ruled them unconstitutional. Ohio's bill could face similar legal challenges if it becomes law. 

A Republican state representative hailed the bill's passage as "an issue of humanity and morality."

“This is not a Democratic or Republican issue,” State Rep. Candice Keller told Cleveland.com. “This is not a religious issue. This is an issue of humanity and morality.”

A Democratic state representative, who is also a physician and professor of medicine, told the outlet that the bill does not have a scientific basis.

“Simply put, you need lungs and a brain in order to live," she said. “And there’s no science or technology that we have that can replace that need."