What Ohio's new "Heartbeat Bill" Actually Means for Women (And Men!)

Ohio's legislators, encouraged by the upcoming Trump administration, moved this week to pass a bill that bans abortions as soon as a fetus has a detectable heartbeat. This is as soon as 6 weeks after conception. Governor John Kasich has 10 days to veto the bill if he wishes. No matter how you feel about the issue of abortion, I want to explain here what this actually means for women (and men!).

  1. Many women don't even know they are pregnant until AFTER this window. This means that a large majority of women won't actually be able to get an abortion by the time they find out. For them, it may as well be a law that stipulates for no abortions whatsoever.
  2. Even if women do find out they are pregnant as early as 3-4 weeks after conception, they may not have enough time to get an abortion due to the lack of available clinics to perform them in Ohio.
  3. If a woman and man want any time at all to discuss whether they want an abortion, this law basically gives them none. Some people may not have enough time to discuss this big decision if they need to, and either regret not getting an abortion, or regret getting one.
  4. This law has no safeguards for women or girls who are victims of incest or rape. This means that, potentially, a young girl could be raped, and as long as her doctor thinks she is healthy enough to carry the pregnancy to term, she has no choice but to do so if she presents after 6 weeks. Many young girls wouldn't even know they were pregnant at that time. They are still getting used to the signals their bodies give them that something is different this month.

The reality of this bill is perhaps a little bit different than meets the eye. The current law in Ohio makes abortion after viability illegal, which is around 20 weeks at earliest, and it protects victims of incest and rape. This would drastically change that.


Dr. Jen Riegle is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) who practices in Santa Rosa, CA. Dr. Jen specializes in women's health, infertility, and oncofertility. If you live in the Bay Area and would like to make an appointment, you may schedule on our website or by calling (707)-243-8998.

*Please see your doctor or schedule with Dr. Riegle for personalized medical advice.