Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signs ‘Heartbeat’ abortion bill

After a nearly 10-year battle in the Ohio Statehouse, Gov. Mike DeWine signed the heartbeat abortion ban into law Thursday, which is sure to spark a constitutional challenge in federal court.

Related: Lawmakers pass heartbeat abortion ban bill, sending it to DeWine

The new law is nearly a complete ban: making it a felony for doctors to perform abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks gestation before women know they are pregnant. It has no exception for cases of rape or incest.

Over the past 15 years, anti-abortion groups have successfully lobbied for more restrictions to the procedure, including a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, requirements that clinics have emergency transfer agreements with local hospitals, and mandated ultrasounds before the procedure.

Even before DeWine put his signature on the bill, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio promised to file suit against the measure on behalf of abortion providers, including the Women’s Med Center in Kettering.

Related: Kettering abortion clinic faces closure if it loses court fight

Similar lawsuits in Iowa, Kentucky, Arkansas and North Dakota have led the courts to strike down similar heartbeat abortion ban laws, according to the civil liberties group.

“This legislation is blatantly unconstitutional and we will fight to the bitter end to ensure that this bill is permanently blocked. Senate Bill 23 is one of the most aggressive, oppressive, and radical attacks against women ever seen in this state and this country,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Freda Levenson in a written statement. “A nearly identical bill in Kentucky was just struck down by a federal judge – we feel confident our impending litigation will ultimately prevail.”

We will have more on this story as it develops.

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