Ohio Lawmaker Reintroduces Bill To Ban Abortion if Heartbeat is Detectable

August 16, 2013 — Ohio Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R) is reintroducing a measure that would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which can be as early as six weeks of pregnancy, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

Wachtmann proposed a similar bill (HB 125) in 2012 (Columbus Dispatch, 8/15). Supporters had hoped a legal challenge to the bill would overturn Roe v. Wade, but state Senate President Tom Niehaus (R) blocked it from a vote after GOP candidate Mitt Romney lost the presidential election. According to Niehaus, Romney would have been more likely than President Obama to appoint Supreme Court justices who would uphold the law (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/3/2012).

Niehaus has since retired because of term limits.

Wachtmann said the measure has the support of 40 of the 99 Ohio House members. He acknowledged the bill likely would face obstacles but said he "wouldn't introduce a bill if [he] didn't think it could be done."

According to the AP/Kansas City Star, the measure has divided the state's abortion-rights opponents between those who think a legal challenge to the law could successfully overturn Roe v. Wade and others who fear it could undermine existing abortion restrictions. Last year's efforts also sparked protests from abortion-rights supporters, who rallied at the Statehouse during key votes (Sanner, AP/Kansas City Star, 8/14).