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The “Heartbeat Bill”: everything you need to know

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Here are the details of the “heartbeat bill” passed by the Ohio House

The Ohio House of Representatives voted 60 to 35 on Nov. 15 to pass House Bill 258 — the “Heartbeat Bill” — which prohibits abortion of fetuses with a detectable heartbeat.

Here’s what you need to know:

What is House Bill 258?

House Bill 258 prohibits the abortion of fetuses with a detectable heartbeat, which is as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The bill also requires that physicians performing abortions check for a heartbeat in the fetus, and report their findings and the methods they used.

What’s new?

The bill is not the first of its kind; the Ohio House and Senate passed a similar bill in 2016, which was vetoed by Gov. John Kasich. Kasich said the previous bill violated the Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion and therefore was legally contestable.

Since 2017, abortion in Ohio was banned after 20 weeks. Now, a mother may have to carry her baby to birth from as early as six weeks — often cited as the week when fetal heartbeat begins. This dramatically shortens the window; most women don’t know they’re pregnant for 4 to 7 weeks, according to Americanpregnancy.org.  

Who it effects?

This bill prohibits the abortion of a fetus with a discernible heartbeat in all cases, except those deemed a medical emergency for the mother. The bill makes no exception to cases of rape or incest.

House Bill 258 criminalizes abortions performed on a fetus with a detectable heartbeat. Such action would result in a fifth-degree felony, punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine.

What’s Next?

Now that House Bill 258 has passed, it heads to the Ohio Senate, where a bill previously passed back in 2016. Kasich has threatened to veto the bill a second time, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

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