Fifty Ohio legislators on Tuesday sponsored a so-called fetal heartbeat abortion ban, the third of its kind to be introduced in the state house in recent years.
HB 69, proposed by House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville), would outlaw abortion after a heartbeat can be detected in the fetus. That can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, a time before many people are aware they’re pregnant.
Violating the law would be a fifth-degree felony for the physician, and could result in up to a year in prison and a fine of $2,500.
The proposed legislation includes an exception to allow abortions when needed to protect the health of the pregnant person. The bill also would create a legislative committee to promote adoption in such cases.
“Fetal heartbeat” bans are considered so untenable that even most anti-choice groups don’t support them. Ohio Right to Life, the state’s most powerful anti-choice group, was not in favor of the previous version of HB 69, which has been introduced twice in the Ohio house.
“Politicians do not know or understand a woman’s specific situation,” Stephanie Kight, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, said in a statement. “They shouldn’t be allowed to make personal decisions on her behalf. Women, their families and physicians should be trusted and respected to make the health care decision that is best for their family.”
“HB 69 is bad law and bad medicine, and is unconstitutional and unnecessary,” Kight added. “We need our legislators to work toward expanding access to health care instead of restricting it.”
Similar bans have led to lengthy court challenges in other states, including Arkansas and North Dakota.
Meanwhile, Ohio Right to Life this year has said it will focus on other restrictions on abortion, including a 20-week ban, and a bill to de-fund Planned Parenthood.
Republicans control both chambers of the Ohio legislature by wide margins.