Kasich Shoots Down the Heartbeat Bill

On December 13th failed presidential candidate and current governor of Ohio, John Kasich, vetoed one of the strictest anti-abortion bills since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in the case of Roe v. Wade in 1973. However, before the potential impact the bill, known as the heartbeat bill, can be discussed, the significance of Roe v. Wade must be explained.


On January 22, 1973 the Supreme Court announced their ruling in the case of Roe v. Wade. In their ruling, the court recognized for the first time a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy stating that the constitutional right to privacy, ensured under the Due Process Clause in the 14th Amendment, “is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.” Subsequently, this ruling invalidated any state laws that prohibited first trimester abortions.


The heartbeat bill would have criminalized any abortion that occurred as soon as a fetal heartbeat was detected. A fetus usually develops a heartbeat at about three weeks but the earliest it can be detected is at six weeks. No conclusive data can be found about when most women discover they are pregnant, some women claim to have known after eight days and others have gone through an entire pregnancy without knowing they are pregnant; however it is true that the first trimester of a pregnancy is about three months. Since the ruling in Roe v. Wade invalidated any state laws that prohibited first trimester abortions, the heartbeat bill is clearly unconstitutional. So why would the Ohio legislature pass it?


Some claim that the Ohio legislature was “empowered by Trump,” as the president elect Donald J. Trump has stated numerous times that he would appoint pro-life justices in an attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade. Trump has acknowledge that should Roe v. Wade be overturned that issue of abortion “would go back to the states” and women may “have to go to another state.”


In addition, Kasich is a staunch pro-lifer. During his time as governor of Ohio, he signed into law HB 59. HB 59 “requires all ambulatory surgical facilities to have a transfer agreement with a local hospital to admit patients in case of emergency. At the same time, the law prohibits public hospitals from entering into transfer agreements with abortion providers.” This law was directly responsible for four of the eight surgical clinics closing, leaving only eight surgical clinics and abortion clinics that provide abortions in Ohio.


Had the heartbeat bill passed, it would have been near impossible for women in Ohio to receive a safe and legal abortion without being forced to travel out of state. In addition to only having 8 clinics that provide abortions for women, Ohio also has a 24 hour waiting period before a woman can receive an abortion. Ohio’s 24 Hour Informed Consent Law requires that women visit a doctor and receive certain information 24 hours prior to the abortion procedure. The heartbeat bill would have been the final nail in the coffin to end abortions in Ohio, although the bill would most likely have been declared unconstitutional by the high court.


Kasich cited this, as well as the ensuing legal fees, as his reasons for vetoing the heartbeat bill stating that “this veto is in the public interest.”  However, with Trump as the president-elect, Kasich may no longer have to worry about the heartbeat bill being unconstitutional.