The ACLU has branded the “heartbeat abortion bill” as unconstitutional.
The “Human Rights Protection Act” SB 23 colloquially known as the “heartbeat bill” is now a law in Ohio. The ban on abortion after six weeks of conception makes the state sixth in the United States to ban abortions from the point of detection of a fetal heartbeat. The bill was signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine yesterday afternoon, only a day after it successfully managed to meander through the GOP dominant General Assembly. If not blocked by a federal judge, the law will come into effect within 90 days.
SB 23 outlaws abortions early into the pregnancy, as quick as six weeks after conception, a time often before women come to know about their pregnancy. Ohio’s law is one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the United States. When Governor DeWine signed SB 23, he broke the tone set by Republican John Kasich, his predecessor as the governor of the state. As Governor of Ohio, Kasich has vetoed this measure twice. The state’s highly divided politics had decelerated the bill’s progress. It is to be noted that Ohio state first proposed the bill, but it was made into law in other states. This happened due to continuous debate on the legislation which stymied its passing. Former Governor Kasich twice vetoed SB 23 on the grounds of it being unconstitutional and Ohio state would then have to fight an expensive legal battle.
The Governor DeWine signed bill does include a few exceptions to save a woman’s life, but it makes no exceptions for crimes like incest or rape. According to DeWine, the rationale behind this bill is to ensure that the government does what it should do, protect those who do not have a voice and who are vulnerable. He claimed it is the government’s role to protect life from its earliest stages to its end.
Federal judges in Iowa and Kentucky have blocked similar laws or struck this legalese down as unconstitutional. The Governor of Georgia is yet to sign such a bill presented before him. The Ohio Governor’s action will likely initiate a long-running legal challenge.
The Ohio branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced its intention of filing a case against the law. The ACLU claims the law virtually prohibits all abortion care. Freda Levenson, the legal director of ACLU Ohio, issued a statement saying this legislation contradicts the U.S. Constitution and her organization will legally fight to make sure the bill gets permanently blocked.