Heartbeat Abortion Bill draws opponent rally, supporters testify

Ohio Statehouse News

COLUMBUS (WDTN) – One of the most restrictive abortion bills in the country had its first hearing in the Ohio Senate Tuesday. The bill could be voted into law later this week.

Even though the hearing was scheduled for supporters of the bill, opponents of it were quite vocal at a rally outside the statehouse just hours before hand.

Dozens of Pro-Choice advocates stood on the steps of the Statehouse rallying against the bill. Erika Reese is a medical student about to become a doctor and says it imposes cruel and unusual punishment on women who would be forced to carry a fetus that was not viable to term.

“I cannot stand by as a state legislator systematically dismantles the rights of women in Ohio and prohibits physicians from providing the best possible care,” said Reese.

According to Reese tests to see if a fetus will be viable cannot be conducted until 10 weeks into a pregnancy; the bill cuts off abortions at 6 weeks.

“That is one of the big concerns with this bill; it does not have adequate protections for women’s health. There [are] no protections if there is something that goes wrong with fetal development,” said Jaime Miracle, the Deputy Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.

Kaitlin Bennett supports most of the bill and even she says lawmakers should hold off on passing it.

“I’m a Pro-Life advocate, but maybe this bill needs a lot more work into it and I think they are just trying to push it through,” said Bennett.

Bennett does want to see a 6 week ban, but she says the concerns Reese and Pro-Choice advocates brought up about women being forced to carry a stillborn child to term, and a lack of exceptions for cases of incest, need to be addressed.

“Yeah, it should absolutely accommodate for that,” said Bennet. “If they know that the baby is not going to survive, or like I said if it’s already dead and it’s not going to be viable outside of the womb, then absolutely.”

Late Tuesday it was announced that the bill would receive a second hearing scheduled for the following afternoon.

This hearing will be for opponents to voice their concerns.

A vote to pass the bill out of committee has also been scheduled for when they have finished.

No amendments or substitutions to the bill have been scheduled at this time.

Purely based on how much time is left in the General Assembly, some feel like this bill needs to pass into law this week if lawmakers want a chance to override a veto from Governor Kasich.

If the bill passes out of committee Wednesday afternoon, it could be voted on by the full Senate as early as Thursday.

If it passes the Senate without any changes, the bill would then go through a process where it is re-written to an official form.

That re-write will be scrutinized to ensure there are no technical errors that would cause the bill to be overturned or thrown out by the courts.

Once that form is finalized and approved by the Speaker of the House and the Senate President with their signatures, it will be delivered to the Governor for his consideration.

Governor Kasich has vetoed this legislation two years ago.

He will have 10 days, not counting Sundays, to decide what to do with the bill.

If he waits until the last minute to veto it, the bill would then come back to the legislature where lawmakers could try to override his veto.

They would need 60 votes in the House and 22 votes in the Senate to successfully do so.

The bill passed the House with exactly 60 votes. If a single voter decides not to override the veto the bill would die and lawmakers would have to start over from scratch next General Assembly, which starts in January.

Seven Republicans voted against the bill in the Ohio House of Representatives, at least one of them did so because it carried no exceptions for rape or incest.

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