If Gov. John Kasich vetoes the bill, there may be an override vote over Christmas week.
The state senate on Wednesday voted 18-13 to pass the heartbeat bill, which falls two votes short of the number needed to override a promised veto. But two Republican senators were absent for the vote, so their help in a recount could see the bill through.
The legislative session ends Dec. 31, so there has been talk about reconvening the legislature for an override vote during Christmas week. Kasich will be succeeded Jan. 1 by Gov.-elect Mark DeWine, a Republican who supports the legislation.
The other bill the legislature sent to Kasich’s desk would ban the dilation and extraction abortion procedure, typically used between 13 and 24 weeks gestation.
If the bill becomes law, doctors who perform abortion when a heartbeat can be detected, around 10 weeks, would commit a fifth-degree felony, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $2,500 fine, the New York Times reported. The bill requires state inspections of abortion facilities to ensure their compliance with reporting requirements. It also establishes more ways to promote adoption.
The law allows exceptions to prevent a woman’s death or bodily impairment, or in cases of medical emergency, but not exceptions for rape or incest.
Catholic News Agency reported that when the legislature attempted a similar bill in 2016, some critics who favor legal protections for unborn children actually voiced concern that the heartbeat bill could result in a counterproductive Supreme Court decision that would strengthen legal abortion in the U.S. Kasich, who has a strong pro-life record in Ohio, vetoed the legislation at the time.
The Ohio Catholic Conference on Nov. 15 said it supports “the life-affirming intent of this legislation,” but stopped short of endorsement, CNA said. The conference said it will continue to assist efforts to resolve “differences related to specific language and strategies.”
“In the end, the Catholic Conference of Ohio desires passage of legislation that can withstand constitutional challenge and be implemented in order to save lives,” the Catholic conference said.