The Spectrum

The Spectrum: Lawmakers react as Gov. DeWine signs controversial 'Heartbeat Bill'

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed the controversial ‘Heartbeat Bill’ this week, making Ohio one of the states with the strictest abortion laws in the country and setting up a surefire legal showdown. 

The law, which will go into effect in a few months, outlaws abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which usually happens around week six of pregnancy. However, the battle over abortion access in the state is far from over as many of the law’s opponents plan to challenge it in court.

DeWine was brief in his remarks before signing the bill into law.

“The essential function of government is to protect the most vulnerable among us, those who do not have a voice,” he said.

Lawmakers were not surprised he signed the bill. He promised to do so for well over a year and supporters were ecstatic.

“We’re excited. This has been an issue that has been on the hearts of so many in my district for years,” Rep. Jena Powell (R-House District 80) said. “I’ve received messages and phone calls saying thank you for fighting for life and standing up for it here in Columbus.”

Opponents of the bill remained resolute in their stance.

“This issue is tearing us apart,” Sen. Veron Sykes (D-Senate District 28) said. “It’s a very personal issue. It’s one of the reasons why I think it should be left up to the family to make this kind of a decision and not to have government intervention.”

Sykes said he doesn’t like the spectacle this legislation has brought, thrusting Ohio into the spotlight in the national news.

“Forcing government to make a decision like this and putting Ohio in the lamplight from around the country is not good,” he said.

DeWine, however, isn’t concerned about the headlines.

“Ohio is certainly not the first state to do this,” he said.

Pro-life lawmakers believe this law could be the key to overturning the landmark Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. That decision, made in 1973, ruled that a right to privacy, under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman’s decision to have an abortion. The Supreme Court also said that the woman’s “right” to an abortion must be balanced against the state’s interest in protecting women’s health and the potential human life.

That stipulation is why states have more power to regulate abortion as a pregnancy moves into its later stages.

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) said this bill takes state control too far.

“It is one of the most radical, anti-choice measures in the country,” Brown said. “I don’t think that older men should be making decisions about health care instead of women and their doctors making those decisions.”

Brown cited concerns over the bill taxpayers will have to foot when the law is challenged in court.

“There is nothing good that can come from this except scoring political points with the far-right base of the Republican Party, and that is apparently what these legislators want to do,” he said.

Now, with now conservative-leaning Supreme Court, Brown is apprehensive about whether Roe v. Wade will hold up.

“It’s been the law of the land for 45 years. The Court should rule based on precedence that that should stand,” he said. “We have a Supreme Court now that puts its finger or its thumb on the scale of justice.


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