Ohio To Consider ‘Heartbeat’ Bill Outlawing Abortion Six Weeks Into Pregnancy

The Columbus Dispatch’s Catherine Candisky reports that the Ohio House is set to vote on a potentially unconstitutional measure that would effectively outlaw abortions six or seven weeks into pregnancy — before most women have even discovered that they’re expecting:

House Bill 125 by Rep. Lynn R. Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, would outlaw abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, generally six to seven weeks into pregnancy.

“This is a historic vote,” said Janet Folger Porter, the former legislative director for Ohio Right to Life who has led efforts to pass the legislation. “When passed, the heartbeat bill will be the most protective legislation in the nation.” […]

[A]ssuming the bill’s sponsor and 48 co-sponsors vote for the bill, it will need only one more supporter to get the 50 votes required to pass. It would then go to the Senate for consideration, where its fate is uncertain.

The measure goes much further than bills passed in at least six states — Nebraska, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma and Alabama — which ban abortions after the 20th week of gestation and establishes a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. That 1973 Supreme Court decision held that abortion cannot be banned until the fetus is viable, which is generally believed to be at the 24 week.

Interestingly, some abortion opponents have conceded that HB 125 is unconstitutional. Ohio Right to Life opposes the bill and “urged lawmakers to vote against it” in committee. That didn’t stop Rep. Todd McKenney (R), however, who supported “the legislation even though he does not think it is constitutional.”

Ohio will also consider several other anti-abortion measures that would “outlaw post-viability procedures” and “prohibit insurance plans from covering abortions in the health-insurance exchange that Ohio will create as part of the federal health-care reform.” The state budget proposal also “includes a provision banning publicly funded hospitals and clinics from performing abortions.”

The “heartbeat” bill also does not include exceptions for rape, incest, or health of the mother.