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Tipsheet

Encouraged by Trump's Election, Ohio Lawmakers Pass 'Heartbeat' Abortion Bill

Ohio could be on its way to becoming the only state in the nation to ban abortion as early as the detection of a heartbeat, which occurs around 6 weeks.

Lawmakers in the Buckeye State felt encouraged to pass the “Heartbeat Bill” after Donald Trump’s win and the forthcoming appointment of a conservative Supreme Court justice.

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The legislation is not new—it had been considered years prior but never gained enough support in the Senate to pass. Now, with the incoming Trump administration, the political milieu is entirely different.

"One, a new president, new Supreme Court justice appointees change the dynamic, and that there was a consensus in our caucus to move forward," Ohio Senate President Keith Faber told reporters was the reason for the support now.

And when asked whether the bill would withstand a legal challenge, he said: "I think it has a better chance than it did before."

Arkansas and North Dakota both passed heartbeat abortion laws but the measures were deemed unconstitutional in federal court.

This is the reason Ohio Right to Life has remained neutral on the legislation.

"When you overreach, sometimes the courts get the last say. There's a reason why no state has a 'Heartbeat Bill' yet,” said the group’s president, Mike Gonidakis.

The ACLU of Ohio has already promised to challenge it if Gov. Kasich signs the bill into law.   

"Just a reminder, if the unconstitutional #HeartBeatBill passes and becomes law, we will challenge it in court,” the group tweeted.

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Still, the threat of a lawsuit is no reason to not pursue legislation that saves lives, said John Fortney, a spokesman for the Senate's Republican caucus.

“[A]s far as the threat of abortion advocates suing, we don't base our decisions on protecting the lives of babies on the threat of someone threatening to file a lawsuit,” he said.

Kasich has 10 days to decide whether to sign or veto the legislation. If he does nothing it would become law in early 2017.

The Ohio governor said earlier this year that he is “pro-life with the exceptions of rape, incest, and the life of the mother.” Since this bill would also ban such abortions in the cases of rape and incest, it remains to be seen what Kasich will do.

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