During the lame duck session last week, Ohio lawmakers passed two abortion ban bills — a 20-week ban and a ban of abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six-weeks into a pregnancy. Gov. John Kasich this week used his line-item veto power to reject the six-week ban.
The Ohio House leadership is considering whether to call lawmakers back to Columbus to override that veto. The House concurred to the Senate amendments to the bill, which included the six-week abortion ban, on a 56-39 vote. Four lawmakers were absent.
Sixty votes are required for an override of the governor’s veto.
“I believe in the heartbeat bill and I would go along with an override,” said state Rep. Ron Maag, R-Lebanon, one of the four House members who missed the concurrence vote last week. He said he was contacted by the majority whip — who counts votes in advance to determine if something will pass.
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State Rep. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, said “I heard there is going to be an attempt (to override the veto) but I don’t know if there is enough people to do it….I heard the seven Republicans (who voted against the bill) are hard no’s and they won’t flip.”
As the holidays approach, Maag said, “It’s a big hill to climb — just getting people back (to Columbus.)”
Kellie Copeland of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio said even if lawmakers don’t override the veto, they could return in January to pass the six-week ban again in another bill — and do so with enough votes to be veto-proof. “I don’t rule anything out.”
Fewer abortions were performed in Ohio in 2015 than at any time since the state began keeping records in 1976, according to an Ohio Department of Health report.
The report shows that the steady decline that has been occurring over the past 15 years continued in 2015, with a slight drop to 20,976 abortions reported in the state. Last year, 52 percent of the terminations occurred at nine weeks or less gestation. Last year, 145 abortions were performed after 20 weeks gestation.