Proponents of a “heartbeat bill” at the Statehouse have argued for passage as a way to press the U.S. Supreme Court to re-examine abortion rights. Well, Alabama and North Dakota have leaped ahead. On Tuesday, Gov. Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota signed a measure barring abortions once a fetal heartbeat is “detectable,” or as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant.
Even some opponents of abortion rights oppose such an extreme step. They argue, logically, that the Supreme Court will not approve. The court has permitted abortions until the fetus is viable outside the womb, roughly at 24 weeks.
More, the court has allowed restrictions on abortion rights, as long as they do not pose an “undue burden” on women. Hard to see a “heartbeat bill” as anything but violating the court rulings.
With all of this in mind, why would the Republican majorities in charge of the Ohio legislature now renew their own efforts to pass a “heartbeat bill”? Legislation cleared the House in the last session. Thankfully, Tom Niehaus, then the Senate president, blocked the bill from advancing further.
At this point, John Kasich should step up. Lawsuits already are in motion. Ohio has much on its agenda. The governor would do well to say that he doesn’t want to see a “heartbeat bill.”