The Ohio Senate voted 18-13 Wednesday, and once the House concurs with the Senate’s changes, one of the nation’s strictest abortion bans will go to Gov. John Kasich for an expected veto.
Four Senate Republicans, including Stephanie Kunze, R-Hilliard, joined all nine Democrats in opposing the bill, which would outlaw abortions after six or seven weeks of pregnancy, when a fetal heartbeat can be detected by a doctor.
The 18 votes are two short of what is needed for a veto override, but the two missing Republican votes — including that of Sen. Frank LaRose, the incoming secretary of state — could conceivably be in session for an override vote.
However, such a vote would need to take place during Christmas week, and Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, was not sounding enthusiastic about that prospect.
The bill could be brought back in the next session, when the next governor, Republican Mike DeWine, would be expected to sign it.
Before the vote Wednesday, Republicans in a committee and on the Senate floor rejected numerous Democratic amendments, including an exception for victims of rape and incest.
Republican senators did alter the bill to prevent women seeking an abortion from being forced to undergo a trans-vaginal ultrasound. They also removed a provision that would have allowed the state to suspend a doctor’s license before an abortion-related crime is proved in court.
As women stood in the gallery wearing shirts that spelled out “stop the ban,” Sen. Charleta Tavares, D-Columbus, said the issue is about women’s bodies and their ability to choose what is best.
“I’m ashamed of today’s action. We’ve got to stand up and speak up for women who can’t be here,” Tavares said. “We’re about to share a holiday message with women that tells women … they don’t have the capacity to make decisions themselves.”
Women would still have abortions, she said. “It will just be a cruel and very dangerous way of doing it.”
Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, a former leader of Ohio Right to Life, recalled the women who testified against the bill and talked about their abortions with “tears in their eyes, pain in their heart.”
“I have never had a woman cry when she said she chose life. Not once. Not a single time,” Lehner said. “Because in our hearts we know this is a human life.”
Republican legislators also remain likely this session to pass a bill that would ban dilation and evacuation, an abortion procedure typically used between 13 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. The Senate-passed bill is likely to get a House vote Thursday.
In other business Wednesday, the House passed an amended bill intended to slow erosion on Lake Erie. Among the amendments were $15 million for a new soccer stadium for Columbus Crew SC and $20 million for repairs to the parking garage beneath the Statehouse.
Rep. Jay Edwards, R-Nelsonville, described the latter two provisions as part of the “lame-duck lottery” that provides help to a region — central Ohio — that needs it least.
“People in my area of the state, like many areas of the state, have been left behind for a long time,” he said. “People in my area of the state wonder where their next meal is coming from.”
The Senate also gave final passage to Daniel’s Law. It would allow a pharmacist to dispense an emergency refill of naltrexone, the generic form of Vivitrol, a drug that blocks a person’s ability to get high from opioids. The bill goes to Kasich for his signature.
Dispatch reporter Catherine Candisky contributed to this story.