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Ohio Governor Signs Heartbeat Bill, But Will It Survive The Courts?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Tony Dejak

 Republican Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has kept his promise and signed into law a heartbeat bill which would outlaw abortion when an unborn child’s heartbeat can be detected. This is usually around 6-weeks and can be before some women know they’re pregnant. Many women find out they’re pregnant around 7 or 8 weeks gestation. 


While pro-lifers cheer Ohio being the latest state to pass into law one of these heartbeat bills, it is worth noting that it faces legal action. Before the bill was even signed, the ACLU, an abortion advocacy group, was preparing to challenge it in the courts. This is a trend for heartbeat bills which have passed in other states, including Iowa and Kentucky, where they have been blocked. A bill is also waiting for the governor’s signature in Georgia. In fact, heartbeat bills have yet to pass muster in any state where they’ve been passed. Should pro-lifers get their hopes up with such bills, or should they temper their expectations? 

“The heartbeat bill is the next incremental step in our strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade,said Ohio Right to Life Mike Gonidakis. If that is the case, we ought to pray that the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t use such laws to further strengthen the already tight confines the states have to work with presently.

It’s questionable how hopeful to be, especially when the Court, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the liberals on the Court, temporarily blocked a Louisiana abortion law from taking effect. The law, signed into law by a Democratic governor and sponsored by a Democratic state representative, simply sought to regulate abortion facilities and require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital. The Court struck down a similar Texas law in 2016. 


North Dakota passed a heartbeat law way back in 2013. It was, as have other heartbeat bills, blocked by the lower courts. Noteworthy is how the Supreme Court refused to hear the case in 2016, which meant it was permanently struck down. 

Has the time come for the Supreme Court to change its mind, to hear a case on heartbeat bills? Five states later, the high court may have to step in. It is worthwhile to wonder if enough has changed since 2016. 

Such might be why Tennessee bishops came out against a heartbeat bill being considered in that state. Would anyone accuse the Catholic Church of not being pro-life? Not seriously at least. These bishops are smart to be worried. DeWine’s predecessor, Republican Governor John Kasich, vetoed the heartbeat bill twice, for similar reasons. Like the Tennessee bishops, Governor Kasich is still pro-life; he believed vetoing the legislation was saving the state from having to pay legal fees for abortion advocacy groups.

Before heartbeat bills were a trend, 20-week abortion bans were, which are common sense and widely supported abortion regulations banning abortions halfway through a pregnancy, when unborn children can feel pain. Late-term abortions are mostly performed on healthy women with healthy fetuses, yet are also significantly dangerous, even deadly, for women, and banning them is supported by majorities of Americans, including those who identify as pro-choice. The United States is one of just seven nations which allows for elective abortions past 20-weeks. Also on that list is China and North Korea. We’re not in good company. While the previously Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a federal 20-week ban, it failed in the U.S. Senate. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, has reintroduced it. 


 Unfortunately, a 20-week ban in North Carolina was just found unconstitutional by a federal judge. If I’m watching any abortion bills headed to the Supreme Court, it’s these 20-week bans. 

Abortion advocates have accused pro-lifers of trying to ban abortion completely, rather than trying to chip away at Roe v. Wade with more gradual abortion restrictions and regulations, which enjoys more widespread support, and which states used to focus on. But, as states such as New York and Virginia pass or consider extreme legislation permitting abortion up until birth and even infanticide, other, more pro-life states feel the need to go in the opposite direction. Both sides are considered extreme, and too much so for the American public who, while they find abortion to be “morally wrong” are generally in favor of restricting it after the first trimester, or 12-weeks. 

While Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey are still the law of the land, the abortion movement has an unfair advantage. I look forward to the day when that is no longer the case. When the day comes that the U.S. Supreme Court is able to let states decide their own abortion laws, so that pro-life legislatures can protect the truly most innocent, vulnerable, and defenseless amongst us, I look forward to bills such as these holding up to constitutional muster.


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