Fetal Heartbeat Bill Veto – Good News for Pro-Life? 

Perhaps it’s not surprising that Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) vetoed the so called “heartbeat bill” despite his tough pro-life stance. This bill would have made abortion illegal once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Pro-life supporters might ask if this type of legislation is even worth fighting for. We can take Gov. Kasich’s reasoning as a point of departure, but there’s much more to it than meets the eye.

History of The Fetal Heartbeat Bill

The fetal heartbeat can be detected by ultrasound at around six weeks of pregnancy. Most women are not even aware that they are pregnant until at least eight weeks or more. In effect, this kind of bill practically outlaws abortion completely. It would also have outlawed abortion even in the case of rape or incest.

This kind of legislation was presented in the past, going back to 2011 in Kentucky and before in Ohio. Since then it has been proposed in several other states as well. However, the fetal heartbeat bill has never yet been signed into law.

Decoy Plan?

Some pro-choice activists believe the controversy surrounding the Ohio heartbeat bill was a diversion to pass the law allowing abortions only before 20 weeks of gestation. The Governor did approve this bill. Per Kasich, the fetal heartbeat bill would have been too costly to fight for as lawsuits would have been inevitable. With the currently pro-choice Supreme Court it might have been a battle destined to fail. Many pro-life advocates agreed with Kasich. So, they choose a battle that they felt they could win. Was this the right decision?


Even for Christians, the abortion issue is not easy to navigate. We all recognize the value of unborn human life, but we must live and operate within the law of the land. One might argue that we should seek to defend the unborn child, no matter what the age, at all costs. But what if it means being dragged down into an expensive legal battle that you’re likely to lose? At what point does faith give way to pragmatic thinking?

We might be tempted to fight the good fight at all costs, but when we look at the national landscape, we should take pause. Don’t forget, in at least seven states there are no restrictions on abortion. That’s right. A woman can abort at any time during pregnancy for any reason in these states. Also, in many states, no parental consent is required for abortions performed on minors. One could imagine that if we fight for a complete ban and lose, the “no restrictions” lobby might find themselves at an advantage.

Meanwhile, thirteen states allow abortion up to 20 weeks, while the remaining 23 states allow aborting an unborn child between 21-27 weeks. So, if we focus all our efforts on an essentially 100% ban, we might end up losing a lot of lives by not defending the 20 or 27 week restrictions.

Let’s Talk About It

Perhaps the true value of what happened in Ohio was the ensuing dialog. More than likely, Kasich knew what he was going to do all along. Sometimes having faith means being as wise as a serpent (Matthew 10:16). The upside was that the conversation has shifted in favor of pro-life. The passing of the 20-week abortion ban was considered a defeat to the pro-choice crowd. Some say Trump’s election victory has a lot to do with it. Either way it’s worth doing all we can to bring the debate to the public.

Remember, every time these legal battles come up, fence sitters must ask themselves: do I feel abortion is ethical? This question goes far beyond if it’s legal or not. Slavery was legal for many years, but it was never ethical. Questions about when an unborn child can feel pain come up in the discussion as well. Not everyone takes a clear position on the issue, and some Christians are even pro-choice.

The Real Victory

If we’re going to pray for anything, perhaps we should pray for a change of heart. In the end, the pregnant woman will make a choice, legal or not. However, if we make compassionate and intelligent arguments, then perhaps when faced with a tough decision, more women will choose life. This doesn’t mean we should give up the legal battle, as this affects human behavior as well. Still, as people of faith, we should always prefer the correct choice by way of conviction rather than by obligation.

The pro-choice lobby fights fiercely. Some even go so far as to say every reason for an abortion is a good reason. For those that are undecided or unsure: do you agree with this statement? If you’re in a bad mood for one day, is that reason enough to abort? Or maybe you lost a nickel. Every reason – really? Their argument hinges on a woman’s right to choose – but what happens when you intentionally influence that choice? Does it make more sense, as a human being, to focus on how to preserve life or end it? Beyond the legal argument, what makes more sense to your heart and soul? Just remember, by six weeks after conception, every baby’s heart is beating in its chest, just like yours and mine.

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