Republican Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have banned abortion after six weeks of pregnancy—and at the same time signed a bill that will ban abortion care at 20 weeks. Both measures have been deemed unconstitutional by the courts.
Both bills were passed by Ohio’s Republican-controlled state legislature during the lame duck legislative session.
Kasich said in a statement that he thought the ban 20-week ban was more constitutionally prudent than the six-week ban, even though 20-week bans have been found unconstitutional by the courts. Similar Republican-backed laws in Arizona, Georgia, and Idaho have been struck down.
“I agree with the Ohio Right to Life and other leading, pro-life advocates that SB 127 is the best, most legally sound and sustainable approach to protecting the sanctity of human life,” Kasich said.
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SB 127, the 20-week abortion care ban, includes no exception for rape or incest and only gives pregnant people immunity when they are at risk of death or permanent organ damage.
The bill establishes a litigation fund to be used by the attorney general to pay for any expenses incurred in defending the anti-choice law.
HB 493, the six-week ban that Kasich vetoed, would have made abortion effectively illegal. If signed, the bill would have prohibited abortion care as early as six weeks of pregnancy, before many people even know they’re pregnant.
Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said in a statement that Kasich was “treating women’s health care like a game” by vetoing the total abortion ban but signing the “equally dangerous” 20-week ban.
“He thinks that by vetoing one abortion ban Ohioans will not notice that he has signed another,” Copeland said. “The 20-week abortion ban callously disregards the unique circumstances that surround a woman’s pregnancy.”
Ohio Right to Life praised Kasich’s decision in a press release.
“Given the current make-up of the United States Supreme Court, Governor Kasich got it right by embracing the strategic incremental approach to ending abortion,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life.
Copeland pointed to the disproportionate effect the anti-choice measure will have on people of color and those with low incomes if it takes effect in Ohio.
“Kasich’s actions today will fall hardest on low-income women, women of color, and young women,” Copeland said. “History will not judge Gov. Kasich’s disregard for women’s health kindly.”