Kasich has a strong pro-life record, signing into law at least 18 abortion regulations or restrictions, including a 20-week ban. The heartbeat bill is the only one he has vetoed.
State Rep. Catherine Ingram, D-Cincinnati, has said the bill would bring back dangerous methods of abortion procedures, while other critics have faulted its lack of exceptions for women pregnant by incest or rape. The Ohio State Medical Association has said it is very concerned about the possibility that doctors could face criminal penalties for what could be considered a standard of care.
Pro-abortion rights groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice have opposed the bill. Foes of the bill planned to rally Tuesday during Senate hearings. Rally speakers included members of the Ohio Senate and House, a rabbi, and Sara Hutchinson Ratcliffe, vice-president of Catholics for Choice, Cleveland.com reports.
While Catholics for Choice self-describes as Catholic, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have repeatedly said the group is not affiliated with the Church in any way.
In the past, the heartbeat bill was supported by pro-life organizations such as the Susan B. Anthony List. However, Ohio Right to Life pushed back against the bill, noting that similar legislation in other states have been overturned by the courts.
Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said in 2016 that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear appeals to those cases. At the time, he said legal scholars believed another effort to present a heartbeat law to the Supreme Court would cause "irreparable harm" to the pro-life movement.
Since 2016, U.S. Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy have been replaced with two new justices appointed by President Donald Trump. Though Kennedy was considered a swing vote in many abortion cases, it is still unclear what the new composition of the court could mean for specific pro-life legislation.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, abortions increased last year by 1 percent compared to the previous year. Out of the 20,893 abortions performed in 2017, the report stated, almost half were performed after nine weeks of the pregnancy.
Eighteen Ohio Republicans in the legislature have sponsored a different bill, H.B. 565, to define "any unborn human" as a human person under state law.
"I believe life begins at conception so the goal of this bill is to, first of all, continue to get the word out that life does begin at conception and move the debate in that direction and to protect unborn Ohioans from being aborted," bill sponsor Rep. Ron Hood said when the bill was introduced, CNN reports.
This proposal has drawn criticism and negative media coverage claiming it could mean pregnant women who get abortions could be charged with murder and potentially face the death penalty, claims that backers deny.
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