Ohio Senate Fails to Override John Kasich Veto of Heartbeat Bill

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 10: Ohio Governor John Kasich speaks to members of the media outside the West Wing November 10, 2016 at the White House in Washington, DC. President Obama hosted the Cavaliers to honor their 2016 NBA championship. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty

A measure known as the “Heartbeat Bill” has again failed to override the veto of Gov. John Kasich of Ohio.

State lawmakers returned to work after Christmas to reconsider HB 258, a ban on abortions once a baby’s heartbeat can be detected — as early as six or seven weeks into pregnancy.

As WOSU public media reports, both chambers of the legislature needed a two-thirds majority to override the veto, but the state Senate was short one vote.

Joining Democrats to vote against the veto override were Republican state senators Bill Beagle, John Eklund, Gayle Manning, Matt Dolan, and Stephanie Kunze.

In December 2016, both the Ohio House and Senate approved the measure, but Kasich, a Republican, vetoed it.

The outgoing governor has echoed the sentiments of Planned Parenthood and Democrats, referring to the bill as unconstitutional. He has said he did not want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars defending the bill in court.

However, as the Columbus Dispatch reported, incoming GOP Governor-elect Mike DeWine has said he will sign it into law.

Ohio Right to Life, the largest anti-abortion group in the state, has supported an “incremental” approach to pro-life legislation. Recently, the group celebrated the Dismemberment Abortion Ban, which Kasich did sign into law just before Christmas.

The pro-life organization now says it is supporting a path forward for the Heartbeat Bill:

As we look forward, Ohio Right to Life believes that it is now time to embrace the heartbeat bill as the next incremental approach to end abortion in Ohio. While we have been neutral on the current legislation before the General Assembly while our dismemberment legislation worked its way to the Governor, we are now prepared to support our partners in Ohio’s pro-life movement to enact the heartbeat bill. With the additions of Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court we believe this is the most pro-life court we have seen in generations. Now is the time to pursue this approach.

However, Republican state Rep. Richard Brown — who also voted against the veto override — said if the Heartbeat Bill ends up at the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices would likely rule against it and affirm Roe v. Wade, reports WOSU.

Janet Folger Porter, who has been lobbying for the Heartbeat Bill, said, nevertheless, that Ohio’s version of the legislation “was crafted exactly for the Supreme Court.”

“It was meant from its birth, from its conception, to be before the court,” she said. “Nothing else needs to be done to this and anything else is a delay that not only hurts its chances for override; it can kill the bill and the babies it is meant to protect.”

Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen tweeted that six-week abortion bans are “harmful” and “rooted in ideology, not safe medicine.”

In response to news that Kasich vetoed the Heartbeat Bill, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) said, “The American people have decisively rejected the extreme status quo of abortion on demand through birth imposed by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade nearly five decades ago.”

“Momentum is growing around the country to humanize our laws,” she added. “We disagree with Governor Kasich’s decision to slow that momentum and veto H.B. 258.”


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