While wrapping up his tenure as governor of Ohio, Republican John Kasich signed Senate Bill 145 into law this week, banning the most common method of second trimester abortion. This follows over 20 abortion-limiting proposals Kasich has signed into law since taking office, positioning Ohio as one of the most restrictive states for abortion in the U.S.
The new law bans the dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure and imposes tight restrictions with little exception. Cases of rape or incest are not cause for leniency. The only exception to the law is if the mother’s life is proven to be at risk, reports CNN. Abortion providers in Ohio — which have decreased from 16 to seven clinics since Kasich took office in 2010 — could face fourth-degree felony charges, including prison time and fines, should they defy the ban. According to The Hill, this procedure constitutes 95% of second-trimester abortions.
At the same time that he signed the ban on D&E procedures, Kasich vetoed the controversial “heartbeat” bill. If it had been approved, the legislation would have made an abortion illegal once a fetal heartbeat could be detected, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The proposed law was approved by the Ohio State Senate before being halted by Kasich. Like the newly passed law, its measures include criminalizing an increasing number of abortion procedures. “Ohio has added so many abortion restrictions that this was just about the only thing left to pass,” Elizabeth Nash, a policy analyst for pro-choice policy group the Guttmacher Institute told the Associated Press.
This is the second time Kasich has vetoed the “heartbeat” bill while passing others that are only slightly less restrictive. Kasich said the proposal was “contrary to the Supreme Court of the United States’ current rulings on abortion,” and his decision shows that that abortion rights is a battle of small and incremental steps. It is often a matter of passing something small enough that it is less likely to be contested as unconstitutional.
However, Governor-elect Mike DeWine, a Republican, appears to be more aggressive in his approach. During the first gubernatorial debate in September, DeWine said he would sign the “heartbeat” bill into law if given the chance.