March 5, 2015 — The Ohio House on Tuesday began discussing a bill (HB 69) that would ban abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.
Similar bills failed in two previous legislative sessions. Some antiabortion-rights lawmakers oppose the legislation because of concerns that it would lead to lengthy legal battles and be declared unconstitutional (Borchardt, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/3).
State Reps. Christina Hagan (R) and Ron Hood (R) proposed this year's bill, which would make it a fifth-degree felony for a provider to perform an abortion if a fetal heartbeat can be detected. It includes exemptions if an abortion is needed to save a woman's life or prevent serious health complications. Individuals who violate the ban could face up to a year in prison and fines of up to $2,500.
Further, the measure would create a legislative committee to encourage adoption (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/19).
The Plain Dealer reports that action at Tuesday's hearing suggests the measure "will be heavily debated" in the state House.
Hagan said the bill aims to challenge the standard set in Roe v. Wade (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/3). Under Roe, states cannot ban abortion before the fetus is viable outside the womb, typically around 24 weeks (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/19).
State Rep. Kevin Boyce (D) said the bill fails to acknowledge unique circumstances in individual pregnancies and does not protect rape and incest survivors. He also suggested that the ban could lead women to seek illicit abortions or travel out of state. "What will prevent someone from taking abortion into their own hands?" he asked (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/3).