Ohio House approves abortion ban after heartbeat

COLUMBUS Tue Jun 28, 2011 7:56pm EDT

COLUMBUS (Reuters) - The Ohio House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which can be as early as six weeks.

The House voted 54 to 43 for the ban, along party lines, with most Republicans voting in favor.

If enacted, the law would be a challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling which upheld a woman's right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually at 22-24 weeks.

Republican Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder said he knows this bill will face a court challenge.

"We're writing bills for courts," he said.

The bill now goes to the Republican-dominated Ohio Senate.

The Ohio House also passed two other abortion restrictions Tuesday, one that would ban late-term abortions after 20 weeks if a doctor determines that the fetus is viable outside the womb. Another bill excludes abortion coverage from the state insurance exchange created by the federal health care law.

The late-term ban already was passed by the Ohio Senate.

Neither bill was as contentious as the heartbeat legislation, which does not contain exceptions for rape, incest or the life or health of the mother.

Republican Representative Danny Bubp said the bill is the will of the voters. He noted that Republicans, who tend to favor anti-abortion laws, became the majority in the state house last November.

"We have to reflect on what Ohio did on November 2nd of last year," said Bubp. "And that is they voted. And they voted for change. Today, we have three pro-life bills on the floor and I'm happy about that."

Democrats in the Ohio House said the heartbeat bill goes too far.

"This bill gives the government the ultimate power, the ultimate power to intrude upon the most personal and intimate decisions of our lives, of women's lives, frankly," said Rep. Connie Pillich.

Ohio Right to Life also has expressed concerns about the heartbeat bill. The organization said the bill is unconstitutional and believes it is not wise to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer's dollars defending it.

(Reporting by Jo Ingles; Writing by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Jerry Norton and Peter Bohan)