Ohio became the sixth state in the nation on Thursday to outlaw abortion from the time when a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
Governor Mike DeWine signed into law the “Human Rights Protection Act,” known as the “heartbeat bill,” after the Ohio House voted 56-40 and the Senate 18-13 to pass the measure. Former Governor John Kasich had twice vetoed similar legislation.
“The essential function of government is to protect the most vulnerable among us, those who don’t have a voice,” DeWine said at the bill’s signing. “Government’s role should be to protect life from the beginning to the end.”
The law makes it a fifth-degree felony offense to perform an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, except in cases in which the life of the mother is at risk.
Similar bills passed in Kentucky and Iowa have been struck down as unconstitutional by federal judges. The governor has not yet signed one that passed the legislature in Georgia.
Abortion advocates, including the ACLU of Ohio, have vowed to challenge the legislation.
“Ohio politicians have a devastating track record of passing legislation designed to push abortion care out of reach, and this bill that bans abortion before most people even know they’re pregnant is no exception,” Elizabeth Watson, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement.