‘Heartbeat’ Abortion Ban Reintroduced in Ohio

Ohio state Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander) introduced a bill Thursday that would ban abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant.

SB 297 allows abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected only to preserve the life or health of the pregnant woman. It contains no exceptions for rape or incest, and would make performing an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected a fifth-degree felony. The bill also would create a joint legislative committee to promote adoption, and allow a woman who has had an abortion to file a civil suit against the physician for the “wrongful death of her unborn child.”

Another heartbeat ban passed the state house in 2011 but failed to pass the senate, and it has not received hearings or a vote since being reintroduced in the house in 2013. The recent senate reintroduction came the day before a federal court permanently struck down another extreme abortion ban in Arkansas, which would have banned the procedure after 12 weeks and defined viability as beginning with a fetal heartbeat. Attorneys who sued to block that law successfully argued that it unconstitutionally restricted abortion before a fetus is viable.

In a statement, Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, re-named the bill the “Heartless Abortion Ban” and said, “It’s bad enough that Governor Kasich is abusing his regulatory authority in an attempt to close abortion clinics in our state, now we have Senator Jordan trying to effectively outlaw the procedure. Ohio women are fed up with politicians interfering with their medical decisions and they will make that known when they go to the polls in November.”

In accusing Kasich of “abusing his regulatory authority,” Copeland was referring to new abortion restrictions the governor signed into law as part of the state budget last summer. Under the new rules, the state health department can deny abortion clinics, for any reason, a “variance” that is required by law if the clinic cannot obtain a transfer agreement with a local hospital. The health department has denied a variance request in one case already and ordered the Women’s Med Center in Sharonville to close, although the order is being appealed. Three other clinics are in danger of being closed for the same reason; if that happened, there would be no abortion clinics in the western half of the state.

News reports have noted that abortion access in Ohio is dwindling because of recent clinic closures and because of a catch-22 in the new laws that requires clinics to obtain a transfer agreement with a local hospital, while also forbidding public hospitals from entering into transfer agreements with abortion clinics. Public hospitals can’t perform abortions themselves either. That only leaves private hospitals, which are often religiously affiliated or otherwise unwilling to get involved in the politically charged issue of abortion.

North Dakota is the only state to pass a ban on abortion as early as Ohio is proposing, and that law is currently blocked by courts. Alabama proposed a heartbeat ban this year that has so far passed the state house, while another heartbeat ban died in committee in Mississippi, and another in Kentucky is unlikely to move.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact press@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • fiona64

    This is so stupid. What about the beating heart of the pregnant woman? I guess that doesn’t matter. All this bill will do is create more Savita Halapannavars.

    • Shan

      All these state legislatures have all this extra money available to advance and defend this type of blatantly unconstitutional legislation that’s ultimately going to fail. I guess they’re busy siphoning off the Title X funding. Cuz it’s all fungible, right?

    • http://batman-news.com Mummel18000

      Heartbeat of a pregnant woman? You think they care? Women are not living people to them, their only function is to go through repeated pregnancies, preferrably unwanted so they learn their place. These people are sick.

      • fiona64

        I couldn’t agree with you more, actually. The way the anti-choicers go about erasing women from their discussions of pregnancy is extremely disturbing.

        • Nemain Ravenswoods

          So, will their next step be making it mandatory to be pregnant and then put you somewhere to make sure you do the 9 months? Just call me incubator. Evidently, that’s all a woman is good for.

          • fiona64

            Don’t give them any ideas; they seem to think that “The Handmaid’s Tale” is an instructional manual.

          • lady_black

            And given the chance they would follow it to the letter. It’s amazing how much they sound like “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

        • kathy smelser

          They will not let us be part of the discussion ,,but if men could get pregnant we as a country would not even be having this conversation ,,there would be a clinic on every corner

    • lady_black

      Oh they’ll just hook you up to machines to keep your corpse going like they did to poor Mrs. Munoz.

    • KingMeIam


  • JeffreyRO55

    The GOP needs to come up with some positive ideas, so it won’t have to constantly rely on cultivating hatred in the culture wars. I can’t wait for the pharmaceutical companies to develop new and better “morning after” pills, so this whole abortion thing just goes away.

    • lady_black

      Using Vasogel in this country would be better. Like most men, you’re limited to thinking inside MY box. A woman can have one pregnancy per year. A man can cause hundreds is the same time period.

  • Nicko Thime

    The Bible recognizes life at breath, not before.
    The Jews didn’t look at an infant as a person for 30 days after birth.
    What is their basis for this absurd attempt to further control women?
    It is obvious that the forced gestationists have an agenda which has nothing to do with governing and everything to do with controlling as women who don’t have reproductive freedom do not have economic freedom either. These fanatics would deny that freedom for unfounded BELIEFS.

    The answer is simple, YOU are an idiot if you vote for one of them

  • Sitara Singley

    Life begins at birth. It is my fucking body. If I want an abortion, back up off my Koolaid.

  • kathy smelser

    Ohio does not care for children that already have heartbeats ,,,Our politicians have cut funding for schools , food ,,housing ,,,child protective services ,,,They just look more and more foolish with every attempt