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Protesters gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court awaiting the results of the groundbreaking Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt. (Photo: Victoria Pickering/flickr/cc)

Emboldened by Trump, Ohio GOP Passes Extreme Attack on Abortion Rights

Bill to ban abortion after fetal heartbeat can be detected—as early as six weeks—on its way to anti-choice Governor John Kasich's desk

Nadia Prupis

Ohio lawmakers approved a bill late Tuesday that bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The bill is now headed to Governor John Kasich's desk. If signed, it will be one of the strictest abortion laws in the country.

The so-called heartbeat bill means that abortion could be prohibited as early as six weeks after conception—a point at which many women may not even realize they are pregnant—effectively making it illegal in the state.

Lawmakers passed the bill largely along party lines, "emboldened by anticipation of [President-elect] Donald Trump's upcoming federal and Supreme court appointments," as reports. Republicans in the state have tried to advance the heartbeat bill in some form since 2011.

In Ohio, Republicans control both legislative chambers, as well as the governor's office. Kasich is well known for his anti-choice stance, having previously sought to strip funding from Planned Parenthood, but he has also expressed skepticism over former iterations of the heartbeat bill.

NARAL Pro-Choice America launched a petition calling on Kasich to veto the legislation.

"This was completely unexpected, and senators had less than 90 minutes to review the amendment before voting," the organization wrote.

The measure was tucked last minute into an unrelated child abuse bill and has no exceptions for rape or incest. As notes, the change "would put the state in violation of current constitutional standards for abortion rights."

Planned Parenthood wrote on Twitter, "Ohio anti-abortion extremists know how unpopular their agenda is, so they have to sneak it into unrelated bills."

"After years of passing anti-abortion laws under the guise of protecting women's health and safety, they lay bare their true motives: to ban abortion in the state of Ohio," said Planned Parenthood Action Fund spokesperson Dawn Laguens.

Just hours after the bill passed, protesters gathered outside the Governor's mansion, holding signs that read, "Abortion Access Now," "My Body, My Rights, My Choice," and "Trust Women."

Federal courts have struck down similar measures in North Dakota and Arkansas, but Republican lawmakers said the Ohio bill could survive a legal challenge with the incoming administration.

"A new president, new Supreme Court appointees change the dynamic, and there was consensus in our caucus to move forward," Ohio Senate President Keith Faber told the Columbus Dispatch.

Ohio's approval comes amid more anti-choice moves around the country. On Monday, the Texas Department of State Health Services released an online pamphlet rife with medically debunked myths about abortion, including its alleged link to cancer and suicide risks. According to state law, doctors are required to give the information to all patients seeking abortions.

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