A bill that would have made Ohio’s abortion restrictions the most far-reaching in the country failed Wednesday in the state house by a vote of 46 to 39. The bill needed 50 votes to pass.
If enacted, HB 248 would have banned abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy—before many people are aware they are pregnant. That makes so-called heartbeat bans some of the most extreme abortion restrictions in the country. The Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision protected abortion until fetal viability, which is often defined as around 23 or 24 weeks of pregnancy.
HB 248 and its companion senate bill were added at the last minute to the state’s House Health and Aging Committee, where it was scheduled for a quick vote. Republican state leaders then altered the composition of the committee, stacking it with members more friendly to the radical bill.
The bill passed that GOP-controlled house committee in an 11-6 vote, where it moved to the house floor.
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In 2011, the Ohio state legislature became the first state to introduce a fetal heartbeat ban. Such legislation has since gained traction among anti-choice legislators nationwide, and has been introduced in Michigan, Alabama, Kentucky, and Mississippi.
Both North Dakota and Arkansas passed similar legislation, but the restrictions were struck down by federal judges who declared them unconstitutional.