COLUMBUS, Ohio — Following in the steps of Mississippi, Ohio’s governor has signed a bill into law that requires abortionists in the state to determine whether or not a baby has a heartbeat prior to murdering the child, and prohibits such individuals from proceeding if they hear or see any cardiac activity.
The bill, which is similar to the Mississippi legislation currently being challenged in the courts, has generated concern surrounding the legitimacy of entrusting an abortionist to make such a determination, as well as the fact that it does not provide any protection for children when a heartbeat cannot be detected.
Senate Bill 23, introduced by Sen. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, mandates that “[a] person who intends to perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman shall determine whether there is a detectable fetal heartbeat of the unborn human individual the pregnant woman is carrying.”
It simply allows for the chosen method to detect the heartbeat to be “consistent with the person’s good faith understanding of standard medical practice,” meaning that the abortionist could conduct either an abdominal or trans-vaginal ultrasound.
According to reports, ultrasound technicians believe that only a trans-vaginal ultrasound would be effective in picking up the heartbeat of a baby with a gestational age of six weeks or less.
“A fetal heartbeat may first be detected by a vaginal ultrasound as early as 5 1/2 to 6 weeks after gestation,” the site HealthLine outlines. “But between 6 1/2 to 7 weeks after gestation, a heartbeat can be better assessed.”
BellyBelly also explains, “A transvaginal ultrasound can detect a heartbeat around 6 weeks of pregnancy. However, it isn’t uncommon to be unable to detect a heartbeat via ultrasound until closer to 7 or 8 weeks.”
It is stated that a baby’s heart begins beating at approximately 22 days after conception (between four and five weeks gestation). According to statistics from the Ohio Department of Health, 56 percent of abortions in the state in 2017 were on babies less than nine weeks gestation, or 11,784 children.
Performing an abortion without first checking for a heartbeat, or performing an abortion after a heartbeat is detected, would be a fifth degree felony under the new law. However, an abortionist would not be found guilty if “the method used to determine the presence of a fetal heartbeat does not reveal a fetal heartbeat.”
An exception is also provided for cases when — no matter the gestational age of the child — as per “the physician’s reasonable medical judgment,” the abortion is “intended to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or to prevent a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”
Under current Ohio law, “[a] medically diagnosed condition that constitutes a ‘serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function’ includes pre-eclampsia, inevitable abortion, and premature rupture of the membranes, [and] may include, but is not limited to, diabetes and multiple sclerosis.”
The doctor or abortionist is required under S.B. 23 to place a document in the patient’s record notating that the abortion was “necessary” to prevent death or serious physical harm to the mother. It must also outline both the mother’s medical condition and the “rationale for the physician’s conclusion that the medical procedure is necessary.”
However, some doctors and nurses have refuted the notion that abortion is ever necessary for the life or health of the mother, as a Cesarean section would be performed if an emergency arose. There is no need to kill the baby in the process.
“The essential function of government is to protect the most vulnerable among us, those who do not have a voice,” Gov. Mike DeWine said during the signing on Thursday. “Government’s role should be to protect life from the beginning to the end, to protect those who cannot protect themselves, such as the elderly, the unborn, those who are sick, those who have a disability, those who have a mental illness or an addiction.”
“The signing of this bill today is consistent with that respect for life, and the imperative to protect those who cannot protect themselves,” he stated.
When asked about the courts striking down similar bills, DeWine said that he views the legislation as a “vehicle” for the U.S. Supreme Court to potentially revisit its rulings on abortion, and with the hope that legal precedent would be modified or overturned.
“We respect the law, and we will respect what the courts decide,” he also remarked. “Just as those of us who have felt that some of the previous court decisions are not consistent with the Constitution, but we still follow those.”
“It is with that spirit that I sign this today,” DeWine continued. “We will continue to follow the law. The United States Supreme Court will ultimately make a decision in this case.”
The bill, also known as the “Human Rights and Heartbeat Protection Act,” passed the House on Wednesday 56-39, and was approved by the Senate the same day 18-13.