Ohio has joined about 17 other states in banning abortions after 20 weeks.
After a back and forth between Ohio legislators on what would be constitutional in regards to abortions within the state, Governor John Kasich signed a bill into law that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Initially, the highly controversial “Heartbeat Bill,” was being heavily debated as an option within the Ohio government; it would have banned abortions after 6 weeks.
Here are 5 things you need to know about Ohio’s new abortion law.
John Kasich’s “Heartbeat Bill” veto
Governor Kasich vetoed the “Heartbeat Bill” for the same reason that many legislators had opposed its passing — because it would be easily challenged as “unconstitutional.” Precedent has found that laws with a 6 week ban were unconstitutional; for instance, both Arkansas and North Dakota were challenged when they chose to pass a similar measure.
The new abortion regulations will make it a fourth-degree felony for a doctor to perform an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy when the fetus is viable. The ban outlaws an incredibly rare procedure, as only about 1 percent of all abortions take place after 20 weeks. A majority of these abortions that take place after 20 weeks of pregnancy are the result of doctors finding birth defects that were undetectable in earlier screenings. In order to access a safe, legal abortion, women will have to travel long distances and cross state lines, a barrier that many women cannot afford.
Almost no exceptions
The twenty week ban allows very limited exceptions for a woman’s health. For example, if a woman needs to get an abortion for medical reasons because she has a chronic illness, she will not be allowed to get an abortion until she is so sick that she could die or have organ failure. Furthermore, the ban leaves very few exceptions for rape, incest, or fetal anomaly.
Decisions against pregnancy altogether
For high risk women with chronic health conditions, mental health conditions and even blood conditions, Ohio’s new abortion law poses a threat to their ability to make a choice about their pregnancy as complications develop. For example, an anomaly ultrasound, which takes place between 18 and 22 weeks, can reveal chromosomal or even fatal conditions in the fetus that may lead parents to decide to terminate the pregnancy. Because of the twenty week ban put in place by the new abortion law, women will have less time to acquire these diagnosis and make these hard decisions.
Ohio’s new law is a peak into what abortion laws are like across the country, with more and more states pushing for even stricter legislation. A common challenge to the strict legislation from the pro-choice side of the aisle is that many women could potentially not even be aware that they are pregnant in the window set forth by laws.