A federal judge has temporarily blocked Ohio’s heartbeat law from going into effect while a legal battle goes forward.
District Judge Michael Barrett issued the injunction last week from Cincinnati, saying that the Human Rights and Heartbeat Protection Act (SB 23) “places an ‘undue burden’ on a woman’s right to choose a pre-viability abortion.” He also stated that the law “will have the effect of preventing nearly all abortions in Ohio” and therefore, “One could characterize the obstacle Ohio women will face as not merely ‘substantial,’ but, rather, ‘insurmountable.’” The law was to take effect July 11th.
Mike Gonidakis, President of Ohio Right to Life, spoke out after the injunction was ordered, calling it disappointing but not surprising. In a statement released the same day, he expressed hope that the legal challenges ahead would eventually lead to the overturning of Roe. “The Heartbeat Bill has the potential to be the vehicle that overturns Roe v. Wade. We know that this preliminary injunction is just a step in the process to finally seeing Roe reconsidered.”
The bill was considered to be an eventual challenge to federal abortion laws, as backers of the bill hoped it would go all the way up to the Supreme Court, reported the The Washington Times in April when the bill was passed. At that time, Ohio Right to Life called the law the “next incremental step in our strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade,” a sentiment that was reiterated by the Governor last week. “Governor DeWine has long believed that this issue would be decided by the United States Supreme Court,” said spokesman Dan Tierney in an email to Reuters. Judge Barrett even said as much in his ruling: “To the extent that the State of Ohio ‘is making a deliberate effort to overturn Roe [v.Wade] and established constitutional precedent,’ […] those arguments must be made to a higher court.”
The law would prevent abortions on babies where a heartbeat has been detected, usually around 6 weeks. This could sometimes be before a woman is aware that she is pregnant. Although abortion activists have disputed the term “heartbeat” about these bills, research has discovered the heart, a crucial organ for fetal development, may beat even earlier than initially thought. And of course, until very recently, when “heartbeat” became an “unscientific” term when speaking about preborn children, the term was widely used even by the pro-abortion American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Included in the law was an exception for “medical emergency” and “medical necessity,” which the law defined as “condition of a pregnant woman that, in the reasonable judgment of the physician who is attending the woman, so complicates the pregnancy that it necessitates the immediate performance or inducement of an abortion.” However, in truth, abortions are never medically necessary, because abortion is the deliberate and targeted destruction of a human being in utero.
The bill was signed into law in April after the previous GOP governor, John Kasich, vetoed it twice. Other states have passed or attempted to pass similar heartbeat legislation, including Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi, although many of the measures are facing legal challenges which may prevent many of those laws from going into effect.
Editor’s Note, 7/10: Clarified wording in last paragraph regarding passage of various heartbeat bills and legal challenges.
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