Ohio Governor Vetoes 'Heartbeat' Abortion Bill But Signs 20-Week Ban

Governor John Kasich has vetoed a bill that would outlaw abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, but has approved a law that bans terminations after 20 weeks of pregnancy

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In a landmark decision, Ohio Governor John Kasich has vetoed an abortion bill that would have banned the majority of abortions in the state as early as six weeks into the first trimester.

Yesterday, Kasich called the so-called 'heartbeat' abortion bill 'unconstitutional' and said it would cost the state thousands of dollars in legal battles.

The 'heartbeat' bill is so-called because it would prevent a woman from having an abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat could be detected, which is as soon as six weeks into pregnancy.

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According to the BBC, Mr Kasich – who ran as a 2016 Republican presidential candidate – said: 'The State of Ohio will be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to cover the legal fees for the pro-choice activists' lawyers.'

However, lawmakers in Ohio still have the right to override his veto.

The news comes one day after artist and feminist Whitney Bell – who opted to have a termination last year – penned an emotional essay for ELLE on the importance of women having the choice to determine their fertility and the harsh limit a ban on abortion past six weeks has on a woman's right to choose.

Bell wrote when she found out she was pregnant, she was 'way past the 6 week mark, as most women who need an abortion are, because at 6 weeks a woman will have missed only one period'.

However, while Kasich's veto of the bill might be a small victory for some, the politician also signed a 20-week abortion ban – approved by the Republican-controlled Ohio Senate – and stated that the decision was the 'best, most legally sound and sustainable approach to protecting the sanctity of human life'.

The 20-week abortion limit is currently in place in 15 states across the US but critics of the ban see the limit as a way of undermining the 1973 Supreme Court ruling, known as Roe v Wade, which states – much like the UK – that abortion is legal between 22-24 weeks after conception.

In a year that has also seen President-elect Donald trump call for a total ban on abortion during his presidential campaign, in June, the state of Oklahoma passed the Humanity of the Unborn Child Act which would require all public toilets in restaurants, hospitals, public schools, hotels and nursing homes to post signs with anti-abortion messages to deter women from choosing the procedure.

Yesterday, Oklahoma's board of health planned to discuss regulations and the messaging of the signs, which would reportedly state:

'There are many public and private agencies willing and able to help you carry your child to term and assist you and your child after your child is born, whether you choose to keep your child or to place him or her for adoption. The State of Oklahoma strongly urges you to contact them if you are pregnant.'

According to the Associated Press, the Legislature didn't approve funding for the signage, which is estimated to cost businesses a total of £1.8 million and is be required to be in place by January 2018.

As Bell concluded in her essay:

'You have the freedom to believe in whatever you'd like. You can disagree with my abortion. No one is asking you to get one. . . but your God doesn't give you the right to control my body.'

Abortion rights are everyone's rights.

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