But abortion rights advocates said the 20-week ban is troubling on its own, the latest abortion restriction passed under Kasich’s watch.
Pro-life advocates, meanwhile, welcomed the decisions as a step closer to challenging Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal nationwide.
The new regulations, which take effect in 90 days, eliminate the viability test and simply ban abortions after 20 weeks. Abortion providers alleged to have violated the law will be charged with a fourth-degree felony. The woman’s-health exception still applies.
Kasich said he vetoed the heartbeat amendment to avoid lengthy and costly litigation that was likely to end in defeat, based on recent case law. Similar measures passed in Arkansas and North Dakota were found to unconstitutional in federal court, he noted in his veto message. Provisions of the heartbeat bill were “clearly contrary” to the Supreme Court’s current rulings on abortion.
“Such a defeat invites additional challenges to Ohio’s strong legal protections for unborn life,” he wrote. “Therefore, this veto is in the public interest.”
Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis agreed that the heartbeat bill was destined to fail, given the current Supreme Court’s makeup.
“While it must have been difficult, the current makeup of a radically pro-abortion Supreme Court required the governor to exercise great restraint,” Gonidakis said.
“By endorsing the 20-week ban in lieu of the heartbeat approach, Gov. Kasich provided strong pro-life leadership to finally engage a winnable battle with the federal judiciary while saving countless babies at the same time.”
A ‘shameful attempt’ to outlaw abortion
State legislators had considered the bill in previous years but it never passed the Senate. Donald Trump’s election, and a presumption that he’ll appoint conservative Supreme Court justices, spurred Ohio Republicans to pass the measure, a legislator said when the amendment passed.
Abortion rights advocates cautioned against viewing the heartbeat bill veto as a significant gain when weighed against the 20-week ban, and accused Kasich of using smoke and mirrors to outlaw abortion.
“He may hope that by vetoing a six-week ban — which would have virtually banned abortion with almost no exceptions — he comes off as moderate. But Ohio women see right through this and reject this extreme agenda,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement.
“The 20-week ban will force women to travel long distances and cross state lines in order to access safe, legal abortion — a barrier that many women simply cannot afford. This is just another shameful attempt by John Kasich to make abortion illegal.”
CNN’s Dominique Debucquoy-Dodley and John Newsome contributed to this report.