Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) on Tuesday signed a 20-week abortion ban into law, ensuring that reproductive rights in the state remain under attack even as he vetoed the more controversial "heartbeat" bill that would have banned abortions as early as six weeks.
The new law, known as SB 127, bans abortions after 20 weeks and does not include exceptions for rape or incest.
Kasich said the heartbeat bill would have violated the U.S. Supreme Court's previous rulings on abortion. Yet the 20-week ban also goes against the decision made in Roe v. Wade, which protects the right to choose until around 24 weeks, when the fetus becomes viable.
Pro-choice advocates said Kasich's signing virtually confirms previous fears that the six-week ban may have been a ploy to distract from the 20-week restriction, which seems more reasonable by comparison.
"John Kasich is treating women's healthcare like a game," Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said after the signing. "He thinks that by vetoing one abortion ban Ohioans will not notice that he has signed another. The 20-week abortion ban callously disregards the unique circumstances that surround a woman's pregnancy."
"Once a woman has made the decision to end a pregnancy, she needs access to safe and legal abortion care in her community," Copeland said. "Kasich's actions today will fall hardest on low-income women, women of color, and young women. History will not judge Gov. Kasich's disregard for women's health kindly."
Ohio State Rep. Greta Johnson, who serves South Akron and Barberton, tweeted a scathing response to the legislation, writing, "Don't get it twisted—the 20[-week] ban is just as unconstitutional as the 6[-week] ban. Women. Are. People. Say it out loud. Women. Are. People." Her tweet also included an image of a coat hanger surrounded by the words, "Never Again."
Don't get it twisted-— Greta Johnson (@RepGretaJohnson) December 14, 2016
The 20 wk ban is just as unconstitutional as the 6 wk ban.
Women. Are. People.
Say it out loud.
Women. Are. People. pic.twitter.com/tcZvAowoSA
Ohio is now the 18th state to approve a 20-week abortion ban, although similar restrictions have been struck down in Arizona and Idaho. However, legal experts believe the new law will survive legal challenges, according to the New York Times.
Nonetheless, NARAL Ohio spokesperson Gabriel Mann told the Times, "There's no way we're going to take this lying down. It's too horrific of a restriction for women who are facing medical complications and situations where they need an abortion around that 20-week period."