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'Heartbeat Bill' Fight Could Extend Into The Holidays

Abortion protesters at the Ohio Statehouse.
Jo Ingles
Statehouse News Bureau

Backers of the so-called “Heartbeat Bill,” legislation that bans abortion at the point a fetal heartbeat is detected, are getting some help from evangelical leaders. The supporters are sending a strong message to Gov. John Kasich and Ohio lawmakers.

Pastor JC Church with the Family Research Council is calling on Kasich to either sign HB 258 into law or veto it immediately so lawmakers can override the veto before the holiday break - or during the break, if needed.

“Many will say, ‘It’s the holidays. It’s difficult.’ That doesn’t wash any more ladies and gentleman, not when souls are hanging in the balance," Church says.

The faith leaders say it would be fitting for lawmakers to override the veto on Christmas Day. Senate President Larry Obhof says he expects a vote this week but didn't speculate on if lawmakers could override the veto.

“We will cross that bridge when we get to it," Obhof says.

Kasich has 10 business days to veto the bill if it passes. If Ohio lawmakers pass it on Thursday, and Kasich takes the full 10 days, that means the first day the legislature can override the veto will be Christmas Day. Lawmakers have until the end of the year to override any possible vetos by the governor.

Ohio lawmakers passed a similar "Heartbeat Bill" back in 2016, which Kasich vetoed. Lawmakers did not come back into session during the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve to override that veto.

When asked about calls to veto the bill immediately, Kasich smirked and says, "Well, I appreciate their opinion." He says Ohio has passed 20 abortion restrictions on his watch and adds, "Every army needs to rest."

Much of the discussion about the bill this time around is focused on the ability to override a veto. The faith leaders who are backing this legislation say 40,000 abortions have taken place since Kasich vetoed the "Heartbeat Bill" two years ago.

A handful of other states have passed a "Heartbeat Bill" but courts have over-ruled against them. No states currently have a "Heartbeat Bill" in place right now.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.