Published: Sun, April 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

U.S. governor signs foetal heartbeat law, setting stage for legal challenges

U.S. governor signs foetal heartbeat law, setting stage for legal challenges

Thanks to Governor Mike DeWine of OH, the state has became the third this year to pass a "heartbeat" bill which bans abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Republican politicians in Columbus are doing the bidding of right-wing special interest groups and lobbyists, instead of focusing on an agenda to support OH women and help OH kids.

During a conversation I had with local state Rep. Glenn Holmes, D-Girard, back in December (that was when a previous attempt at this bill's passage was blocked by veto of previous Gov. John Kasich), Holmes said he feared the heartbeat bill's far-reaching abortion bans would be used specifically to set off court challenges ultimately to test Roe v. Wade. The final votes followed a spirited committee hearing where abortion rights activists evoked an era of back alleys and coat-hanger abortions. A handful of other states have passed similar bills.

But Attorney General Dave Yost, whose office will defend the new law in court, issued a statement saying "sometimes the evolution of the law requires bold steps".

'Taking this action really is a kind of a time-honored tradition, the constitutional tradition of making a good faith argument for modification or reversal of existing legal precedents, ' he said.

The legal challenge is what the bill's backers have always wanted.

OH now joins Arkansas, North Dakota, Iowa, Kentucky and MS that have similar heartbeat laws on the books.

In a surprise move earlier, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined with the high court's liberals to block a Louisiana law that would have restricted abortion access.

If even one circuit breaks with Roe v. Wade and upholds a heartbeat ban, that could be enough for the Supreme Court to take up the issue, said Justin Dyer, a political science professor at the University of Missouri.

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Alternatively, the high court could agree to hear any of several less sweeping anti-abortion measures. Some would tighten restrictions on clinics; others seek to ban certain categories of abortions.

What might happen at the Supreme Court is far from clear.

As soon as DeWine signed the OH bill into law, the state's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced that they will be challenging it in court.

Women can also sue abortion providers for wrongful death under the new law, and a doctor cannot use unconstitutionality of the law as a defense unless a court rules the law unconstitutional.

The renewed challenges come as the number of abortions performed in the USA has steadily declined since reaching a peak of 1.6 million in 1990. The latest 50-state tally was 926,000 in 2014, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

This bill is a disgrace, and it will endanger women's lives in Ohio.

"The essential function of government is to protect the most vulnerable among us, those who do not have a voice", the governor said, reported the Columbus Dispatch.

"We had so many phone calls from people trying to save up the money for their procedure", Crim said.

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