A bill imposing one of the most stringent abortion restrictions in the nation was signed into law in Ohio on Thursday as Republican Governor, Mike DeWine signed the heartbeat bill, breaking with his predecessor, Republican John Kasich, who had vetoed the measure twice.
Ohio’s closely divided politics had slowed the progress of the bill as it has caught momentum elsewhere, forcing years of debate in the state where the bill originated.
DeWine’s action came a day after the latest version of the bill, which outlaws abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, cleared the Republican-controlled Legislature. Doctors say a fetal heartbeat can be detected using transvaginal ultrasound technology as early as five weeks into pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant.
Even before the bill was signed, the ACLU of Ohio said it was preparing a constitutional challenge to the law on behalf of Pre-Term Cleveland and three other Ohio abortion clinics.
The legal challenge is what the bill’s backers have always wanted. They hope to provoke a legal challenge with the potential to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion up until viability, usually at 22 to 24 weeks.
The law makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.
The latest version of the bill passed out of an Ohio House committee Tuesday. The full House approved it Wednesday and, that same day, the Senate agreed to House changes and sent it to DeWine.
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