Ohio Passes Heartbeat Bill: What Comes Next for Abortion Rights in the State?


Paige Lambert

Slider image by Wikimedia.

In April of 2019, Ohio passed the controversial “Heartbeat Bill” with an approval of 56-40 vote in the house and an 18-13 approval in the state senate. This means that abortion is illegal in Ohio after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. In most pregnancy cases, this is around six weeks after the fetus is first conceived. This bill would be the first abortion restriction released in the state since the Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade.  The Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case was ruled on in 1973 in favor of Roe. It affirmed that women in the United States having access to safe and legal abortions is a Constitutional right.

“The Heartbeat Bill strikes conflicts in the pro-choice community because of strict its guidelines.” Image by Live Science.

To begin with, Ohio declares breaking this law to be a fifth degree offense, meaning 12 months in prison. Also, doctors who would perform these abortions could have their license suspended or even revoked. The bill also does not have any exceptions for rape and incest. The bill only has exceptions if the woman’s life is in danger.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) plans on suing the state after hearing that the bill had passed. The ACLU is an organization that works “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States,” according to its mission statement. Ohio became the seventh state to introduce these regulations on abortion access.

Freda Levenson, the ACLU director of Ohio, said in a statement that “This legislation is blatantly unconstitutional and we will fight to the bitter end to ensure that this bill is permanently blocked.”

“Many people on both sides of the abortion debate think that this bill has the potential of working its way up to the Supreme Court.” Image by Wikimedia.

If this were to happen, there is the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned with newly appointed Judge Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh, a Republican, shifted the balance of the number of Democrats and Republicans on the Supreme Court. This means if a heartbeat bill was taken to the Supreme Court, the ruling could possibly overturn Roe v. Wade. According to the Huffington Post, there are approximately 15 cases that could potentially get to the Supreme Court. If any of these were to get to the highest level of court in the US, the impact could drastically change fthe uture of abortion rights in the US for better or worse. The article was posted in Feb. of this year, which is before Ohio voted on the  Heartbeat bill.

Busy Philipps, an actress and activists, said on her late-night show that “Women and their doctors are in the best position to make informed decisions about what is best for them.”

The future of abortion rights for the country is unknown. Ohio is just one of many cases of this right being limited. As of May 7  2019, Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, signed a similar bill into law that also prohibits all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Following that, on May 14 2019, Alabama votes to ban all abortions in the state, even under cases of rape and incest.

“I’m genuinely scared for women and girls all over this country,” Philipps said.