The Ohio Governor has signed a bill that bans all abortions after the first heart beat.
No topic seemed off-limits, including tales of back alleys and coat hangers, as abortion rights supporters in Ohio fought perhaps the last battle over a twice-vetoed bill to ban abortion at the first sign of a fetal heartbeat.
After nearly 10 years of fighting, Democrats let loose during the run-up to final House and Senate approval Wednesday with lessons from slavery, predictions of economic harm, references to the book of Genesis, and testimonials about their own rapes. Faith groups brandished banners and made pleas for religious tolerance. An advocate for reproductive rights threatened Republicans with the loss of young voters’ support in 2020. Opponents vowed to sue.
Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican who took office in January, has said he will sign the bill; former GOP Gov. John Kasich vetoed it twice.
Five other states have passed similar bans, two of which have been blocked by courts. Since conservative Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court, Republican-led states have passed abortion restrictions in an effort to have the court overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion.
State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, a Democrat from a storied Youngstown political family, shed tears during the debate, exasperated at a bill she said would harm Ohio and its future.
“I'm concerned that we will have companies that will choose not to locate here due to our oppressive laws. I’m concerned that doctors will leave the state of Ohio,” she said. “I'm concerned that our kids are going to leave, that we’re going to lose a large amount of young people who don’t want to live in an oppressive atmosphere.”
Opponents’ protests did nothing to budge a largely closed-mouthed GOP majority on the House Health Committee. Republicans won an 11-7 party-line vote that sent the bill to the full House, where it passed Wednesday.
Republican state Rep. Candice Keller called the legislation “the most compassionate bill we've ever passed.”
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