Ohio abortion 'heartbeat bill' returns to Legislature

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Republican lawmakers in Ohio proposed again on Monday one of the most restrictive abortion measures in the nation, and this time around, they have the governor's support.


New Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has indicated he would sign the so-called heartbeat bill that was twice vetoed by his GOP predecessor.


The measure would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. That can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before many women know they're pregnant.


The GOP-led Ohio Legislature passed such a bill twice but didn't have enough votes to overcome vetoes in 2016 and 2018 by then-Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who signed 21 other abortion-limiting proposals into law.


Kasich said that enacting the heartbeat bill would lead the state into a costly court battle and that the measure would likely be struck down as unconstitutional.


Republican Reps. Ron Hood, of Ashville, and Candice Keller, of Middletown, said they filed the latest version of the bill on Monday with 50 cosponsors — a majority of the House. Their statement noted DeWine's support of the measure, which hasn't yet been given a number or assigned to a legislative committee.


Opponents of the bill have argued it is unconstitutional, with NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio calling it an unacceptable restriction on access to health care.


The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Ohio Medical Association also have opposed the heartbeat bill.


Ohio Right to Life, the state's oldest and largest anti-abortion organization, had been neutral about it but embraced the bill in December after Kasich signed a ban on dilation and evacuation terminations. The organization committed to advocating for the bill this year, calling it "the next incremental approach to end abortion in Ohio."

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