Ohio’s Heartbeat Bill

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As President-elect Donald Trump continues to run the table on the news cycle with his various cabinet picks, the state legislature in Ohio passed a bill to ban abortion as early as six weeks after conception.

Known as a heartbeat bill, the measure would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually about six weeks into a pregnancy. It is important to note, the bill makes no exceptions for cases of incest or rape — the only exception is to save the life of the mother.

The passing of the bill stunned activists, but the possibility of it being enacted into law remains to be seen. Governor Kasich has ten days to veto the measure, otherwise it becomes law. Since the measure is an add-on to a bill revising state child-abuse and neglect laws, Kasich has the authority for a line-item veto. In the past, Kasich has voiced concerns about the constitutionality of the heartbeat bill.

If the heartbeat bill is signed into law by Governor Kasich, the heartbeat bill would be the most restrictive abortion law in the country and would pose a direct challenge to previous Supreme Court rulings.

Under Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court in 1973 established a nationwide right to abortion, states were permitted to restrict abortions after viability. The ruling offered no legal definition of viability, saying it could range between 24 and 28 weeks into a pregnancy. Previously, Arkansas and North Dakota have passed similar anti- abortion bills and in both instances the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals declared the law unconstitutional.

The Scalia-sized hole left in the Supreme Court bench since last March has provided a point of optimism for Republicans in maintaining a conservative court by having President-elect Trump fill the vacancy. It may have also played a part in Ohio Republican lawmakers deciding to pass the heartbeat bill. In the past, Trump pledged to appoint conservative judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade.

However, even if Trump appointed another conservative to the bench, the probability of Roe v. Wade being overturned and the heartbeat bill being deemed constitutional are highly unlikely. Trump would have to find himself in a position during his term to replace one of the more liberal Supremes. Which again, the chances, according to my Magic 8 Ball, are not so good.

It is fair to say the passing of the heartbeat bill was a bold move in the Ohio legislature and a scary moment for pro-choice activists, who are bewildered at how a last-minute amendment to an unrelated bill could single-handedly eradicate a woman’s right to choose.

At the end of the day, while the Ohio legislature’s intention behind adding the heartbeat bill may have been good, it is, in fact, an unconstitutional amendment. If passed into a law, it will cost taxpayers in the Buckeye state millions to uphold the heartbeat bill in the courtroom and has a slim chance of surviving.

For pro-life Governor Kasich, the decision between signing the bill into law or choosing a line item veto is one he will no doubt struggle with. Regardless of Kasich’s pro-life stance, signing the heartbeat bill will be a gamble that will end up costing taxpayers where it hurts the most, their wallet. 

 

Mary Anna Mancuso, Political Strategist and Founder of PoliticalHype.com. She is a regular contributor to Political Storm.