Ohio Governor John Kasich has signed a bill that bans abortion in the state after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but he also vetoed a bill that would have made abortion illegal when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually at about the sixth week of pregnancy.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, or SB 127, becomes law
90 days after the December 13 signing. It is the 18th anti-abortion
measure Kasich has signed since becoming governor in 2011.
Current Ohio law bans abortions after a fetus has begun its 20th week
of gestation, unless a doctor determines that the fetus is not viable
outside the womb.
The new law eliminates the viability test and simply bans abortions
past 20 weeks. The current exception for the woman’s health still
“I agree with Ohio Right to Life and other leading pro-life advocates
that S.B. 127 is the best, most legally sound and sustainable approach
to protecting the sanctity of human life,” Kasich said in a statement.
The governor also explained how he has worked to strengthen Ohio’s
protections for the sanctity of human life during his two terms in
office, but that he felt the provisions in the heartbeat bill “are
clearly contrary to the Supreme Court of the United States’ current
rulings on abortion.”
It was a stance that Ohio Right to Life encourage Kasich to take.
Mike Gonidakis, Ohio Right to Life president, had said a fetal heartbeat
bill likely would not have been upheld in the courts and that having
such a strict standard overturned would have harmed the pro-life
The Supreme Court ruled in January that North Dakota officials could
not enforce the state’s fetal heartbeat law. A federal judge overturned a
similar law in Arkansas in 2014.
“We sincerely thank Governor Kasich for his unwavering support for
the unborn and our pro-life mission,” Mike Gonidakis, Ohio Right to Life
president, said in a statement.
“By signing SB 127, the 20-week ban, Governor Kasich will save
hundreds of unborn lives each year and he positioned the state of Ohio
to directly challenge Roe vs Wade.
However, Molly Smith, president of Cleveland Right to Life,
criticized the veto, saying many Ohioans are questioning Kasich’s
“The governor had a chance to end abortion in Ohio and instead killed
the opportunity by vetoing the bill,” she said in a statement.
Smith also opposed Ohio Right to Life’s position on the fetal
heartbeat bill, saying the statewide organisation’s rationale for
opposing it “makes absolutely no sense.”
She cited the opinions of constitutional lawyers who believed Ohio’s measure would have withstood a court challenge.
“We are truly saddened by the lost opportunity (to ban all abortions)
but will not give up the fight to protect all human life,” Smith’s
Supporters of keeping abortion legal weighed in as well, saying
Kasich’s signing of the measure infringes on the right of women to
decide the issue for themselves.
“Yet John Kasich and the Ohio state Legislature are intent on taking
that right away,” Iris E Harvey, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood
Advocates of Ohio, said in a statement.
Harvey said women will continue to vocally oppose abortion
restrictions. “Women are tied of politicians telling us what to do with
our bodies,” she said.
Twelve other states have enacted 20-week laws that have gone
unchallenged, although similar bans have been struck down by courts in
Arizona and Idaho.
The American Civil Liberties Union has pledged to challenge the Ohio law in court.