ACLU to sue Ohio over ‘heartbeat’ abortion ban

The ACLU of Ohio plans to challenge Ohio’s “heartbeat” abortion bill, according to a tweet posted by the group Thursday.

“We will be filing a lawsuit challenging SB 23 - the unconstitutional total abortion ban. Mike DeWine is expected to sign the bill in the coming days,” the tweet read.

With opposing protest groups outside the chamber, the Ohio House on Wednesday voted 56-39 in favor of a controversial heartbeat abortion ban bill.

The Ohio Senate voted shortly after, 18-13, to approve House changes to the bill later today, giving it the final legislative approval. 

Gov. DeWine has promised to sign it into law. 

Once law, it will be the most restrictive abortion measure in Ohio since the procedure was legalized 46 years ago by the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Roe versus Wade.

It would make it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks before women even know they’re pregnant. Doctors could also face fines of up to $20,000 from the State Medical Board of Ohio.

Both sides of the abortion issue believe it’ll immediately face a constitutional challenge in federal court. Ohio will be the seventh state to enact a heartbeat abortion ban law and several others are considering such legislation.

Related: Heartbeat abortion bill set for floor vote in Ohio House

The GOP-controlled House tabled several amendments offered by Democrats, including one to mandate a DNA database for all men in Ohio so that child support orders can be enforced and one to require paid maternal leave and reasonable accommodations for pregnant and breastfeeding women in the workplace.

The bill contains exceptions if the pregnant woman’s life is in danger but has no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. Two Democrats spoke on the House floor about their own sexual assaults.

The debate pitted those who believe a fetus is a human being with rights against those who believe women should have the right to control their own bodies before the point of viability for a fetus.

In 2017, there were 20,893 abortions in Ohio, according to the state Department of Health.

House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, D-Akron, said lawmakers should now turn their focus on more important issues such as affordable housing, job opportunities and education.

Dayton Rep. Fred Strahorn, the region’s only Democratic lawmaker, was the only local representative to vote against the bill. All local senators voted for the bill except for Sen. Bob Hackett, R-London,  who was absent.

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