An attempt to override outgoing Gov. John Kasich’s veto of a controversial abortion ban failed Thursday in the Ohio Senate.

Without discussion, the Republican-controlled chamber voted 19-13 in favor of an override — one vote short of the three-fifths needed.

The legislation, House Bill 258, would have banned abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, which could come as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed abortion restrictions much later in pregnancies but laws similar to HB 258 passed by other states have been ruled to be an unconstitutional burden on a woman’s right to choose to end a pregnancy.

Earlier, the GOP-controlled House voted 60-28 to override Kasich's veto — the exact number for the three-fifths required.

In a rare Christmas week session, Ohio lawmakers returned to Columbus Thursday to override two other Kasich vetoes. One bill gives pay raises to legislators and other elected officials, and another shifts the burden of proof in self-defense cases.

But the so-called heartbeat bill was the main attraction.

The Senate was crowded with observers wearing Planned Parenthood T-shirts who cheered when the override failed. But Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, later told reporters that he was proud of his record of passing abortion restrictions.

“I think we’re too focused on one particular bill and not the overall record here,” Obhof said. "We’ve had more success protecting unborn life than any other legislature in the country.”

Outgoing Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City, voted against the override after voting in support of the bill earlier this month. Also voting with Democrats were Republican Sens. John Eklund of Munson Township, Stephanie Kunze of Hilliard, Gayle Manning of North Ridgeville and Matt Dolan of Chagrin Falls.

In a written statement, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said, “This unconstitutional abortion ban wasn’t supported by the people — 7 in 10 Ohioans want access to abortion care to be protected. Today’s victory is small and brief, however. Instead of respecting women’s personal decision making, anti-choice members of the Ohio House and Senate passed an equally egregious ban on the most common abortion method used after 12 weeks.”

In the House, supporters and opponents filled the gallery while lawmakers debated the bill.

"Ohio should not be leading this charge against women...there are not exceptions for rape and incest," Rep. Teresa Fedor, R-Toledo, told her colleagues.

Fedor and other opponents also argued the ban would cost Ohio taxpayers millions in legal costs to defend the law.

Kasich has made the same argument. While he has signed 21 abortion restrictions into law since 2011, including one banning abortions after 20 weeks, Kasich has twice vetoed a heartbeat bill, contending the restriction was unconstitutional and would prompt an expensive and losing legal battle.

Rep. Ron Hood, R-Ashville, said “courts do change decisions over time for good reason and we feel this is good reason.”

Supporters vowed to pass the bill again next session and send it to Republican Gov.-elect Mike DeWine, who has said he would sign it into law.

The bill also now has the support of Ohio Right to Life which until Thursday was "neutral."

"With the additions of Justices (Neil) Gorsuch and (Brett) Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court we believe this is the most pro-life court we have seen in generations. Now is the time to pursue this approach," Ohio Right to Life wrote in a press release.

The House and Senate easily voted to override Senate Bill 296 to give legislators and statewide elected officials a 26-percent pay raise over 10 years. The bill also would grant 1.75-percent annual raises over a decade to county and township elected officials. Some who have not had raises since 2008 would see larger pay increases.

The pay raise was tacked into a bill that would extend longer and bigger benefits to survivors of Ohio police officers and firefighters who die in the line of duty.

In his veto message, Kasich wrote, “Unfortunately, I cannot condone or support the last-minute rush to include a controversial pay raise for elected officials into what was an otherwise commendable bill.”

Because it has an emergency clause, it required a two-thirds vote in each chamber to override the pay-raise veto. The House voted 70-16 to override Kasich's veto with 66 required. The Senate voted 25-6 with 22 needed.

Lawmakers also voted to override House Bill 228, a gun bill that included a provision shifting the burden of proof in self-defense cases from the defendant to prosecutors.

Kasich cited “rotten, stinking” politics in the refusal of Republican lawmakers to pass measures he sought to reduce gun violence, including a “red flag” law to allow judges to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person shown to be a danger to himself or others.

The House voted 67-22 to override with three-fifths or 60 votes required, while the Senate voted 21-11 with 20 required. Supporters of the override, including Obhof, noted that every other state puts the burden of proof on prosecutors when defendants claim they acted to defend themselves.

ccandisky@dispatch.com

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mschladen@dispatch.com

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