Ohio heartbeat abortion ban heads to governor

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) A bill banning abortions in Ohio once a fetal heartbeat is detected is headed to Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, who has said he plans to sign it. Opponents vow to sue.

The bill cleared its final hurdle Wednesday when the Ohio Senate agreed to House changes 18-13. The Ohio House had approved the measure 56-39 earlier in the day.

DeWine took office in January. Backers hope he will be true to his word and sign the bill twice vetoed by his predecessor, Republican John Kasich (KAY'-sik).

Ohio joins five other states that have passed such restrictive abortion measures. A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as five or six weeks into pregnancy, before many women even find out they're pregnant.

The bill makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

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3:40 p.m.

The Republican-controlled Ohio House has again passed a measure to ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The 56-39 vote Wednesday sends the heartbeat bill back to the Senate, which must agree to its changes. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has indicated he would sign such a ban.

Ohio would join five other states that have passed such restrictive abortion measures. A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as five or six weeks into pregnancy, before many women even find out they're pregnant.

Similar measures approved by Ohio lawmakers were twice vetoed by DeWine's predecessor, Republican Gov. John Kasich (KAY'-sik), who said enacting the heartbeat bill would prompt a costly court battle and it would likely be found unconstitutional.

The measure, aimed at sparking a challenge to Roe vs. Wade, appears poised to become law.

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12:22 p.m.

No topic seemed off limits as abortion-rights supporters in Ohio fought the latest - and perhaps last - battle over a twice-vetoed heartbeat abortion ban.

The measure, aimed at sparking a challenge to Roe vs. Wade, appears poised to become law.

After nearly 10 years of fighting, Democrats on Tuesday's House Health Committee shared tales of back alleys and coat hangers, the lessons of slavery, the book of Genesis. Advocates testified lawmakers would lose support from faith communities, doctors and young voters.

None of it budged a largely closed-mouthed GOP majority. Republicans appeared confident prohibiting pregnancy termination once a fetal heartbeat is detected is the best thing for the unborn, for women and for Ohio.

They dominated an 11-7 party-line vote that sent the bill to the full House Wednesday.