Ohio Gov. John Kasich signs late-term abortion bill

COLUMBUS, Ohio Wed Jul 20, 2011 3:25pm EDT

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) - Ohio Governor John Kasich signed into law on Wednesday a ban on late-term abortions, the latest of several anti-abortion measures passed this year by Republican-controlled state legislatures.

The Ohio law bans abortions after 20 weeks if a doctor determines that the fetus is viable outside the womb.

"By signing this critical pro-life legislation, Governor Kasich demonstrated to all Ohioans that the health and welfare of mothers and their unborn children are of paramount importance to the state of Ohio," said Mike Gonidakis, executive director of Ohio Right to Life, in a statement.

The late-term ban is one of numerous pieces of anti-abortion legislation passed this year by state legislatures which have Republican majorities as a result of the 2010 elections.

The only exception in the Ohio law is when the woman's life is in danger.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, an abortion rights group, said in a statement that the law targets women with wanted pregnancies who experience "heart-breaking complications" such as a fetal anomaly or a cancer diagnosis.

"When a pregnancy endangers a woman's health, or there are serious complications, politicians shouldn't interfere," said Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.

The Ohio House of Representatives last month passed a bill banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which can be as early as six weeks. That bill is not expected to reach the state senate until September.

Kasich, a first-term Republican, ignited controversy earlier with his support of a law limiting collective bargaining rights for Ohio's public workers.

A Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday found 56 percent of voters want to overturn the collective bargaining law.

Backers of a movement to repeal the law say they believe they have enough signatures to get the measure onto the November ballot for a voter referendum.

The law has not yet taken effect and will not if voters turn it down in November.

(Writing by Mary Wisniewski; Additional reporting by Jo Ingles; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst)

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