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Ohio House Passes Anti-Abortion 'Heartbeat Bill'

Abortion rights advocates protest the Down Syndrome ban on abortions at the Ohio Statehouse in 2017.
Julie Carr Smyth
Associated Press

Lawmakers in the Ohio House have approved the anti-abortion "Heartbeat Bill," which bans abortions at the point that a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

The stringent proposal, which was passed 60-35 in the GOP-controlled chamber, would ban abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The legislation goes next to the Senate.

The "Heartbeat Bill" does not include exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother, and Republicans voted down proposed amendments to add such exceptions.

Republican state Rep. Christina Hagan, the bill's sponsor, said the bill provides "a more consistent and reliable marker for the courts to use" when considering abortion laws' constitutionality. She testified before the Ohio House while wearing her twin infants in a sling across her chest.

“Motherhood isn’t easy, but it’s necessary," Hagan said. "It’s the reason every one of us are here today. It’s the reason every one of us have a living, beating heart."

The ACLU of Ohio called the measure a "total abortion ban" and promised to sue if it becomes law.

Republican Gov. John Kasich, who has signed 20 bills restricting abortion during his eight years in office, vetoed a similar"Hearbeat Bill" in December 2016. Two other states have passed such bans, but pro-choice and even some anti-abortion activists have questioned the bill's constitutionality.

The Republicans hold a supermajority in both chambers, and with 60 votes in favor, the House could override a potential veto of the "Hearbeat Bill." But if new lawmakers bring the bill up again in January, incoming Gov. Mike DeWine said he would sign it into law.

The "Heartbeat Bill" passage marks the latest move in the legislature's lame-duck session. On Wednesday, the House approved so-called “Stand Your Ground” gun legislation, 64-26. That bill eliminates a requirement to retreat in confrontations before using deadly force. Kasich threatened to veto that bill as well, but it also passed with a veto-proof majority.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.