Okay we've got good news and bad news.
The good news is, on Tuesday Ohio Governor John Kasich vetoed the state's "heartbeat bill," which would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Heartbeats can be heard as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, which would make abortion almost entirely illegal in Ohio, and award the state the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation.
The bad news is that John Kasich is still John Kasich, and on the same day he signed into law a bill that bans abortion after a 20-week gestation. Kasich is notoriously anti-abortion and has signed 16 anti-abortion bills into law in his time as governor; so when he denies your abortion restrictions, you know they're extreme.
But let's be clear here, Kasich didn't deny the heartbeat bill because he was being reasonable and saw the major flaws with the law. He denied the bill because it was more likely to face legal challenge, and would most likely lose in that fight.
Ohio's new 20-week abortion limit is safer (for Republicans), and slightly less extreme, but it's still dangerous and restrictive of women's reproductive rights. According to NPR, Ohio Right to Life called the law the "vehicle to end abortion in America."
"[Kasich] may hope that by vetoing a six-week ban — which would have virtually banned abortion with almost no exceptions — he comes off as moderate," said Dawn Laguens, of Planned Parenthood. "The 20-week ban will force women to travel long distances and cross state lines in order to access safe, legal abortion."
Ohio isn't the only state to pass this 20-week ban, 15 other states have similar restrictions in place. But the timing for Ohio is strategic – With Donald Trump soon to be sworn into office, and the growing possibility of a Republican SCOTUS pick, anti-abortion laws like this are unlikely to face serious legal challenge.
First Texas passed a law that would require women to bury their aborted fetuses, then Oklahoma and Ohio drastically changed their abortion laws. If these states are any indication, we're likely to see more strict abortion bans to come, driven by a Donald Trump presidency.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
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