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Pro-choice and abortion rights activists protesting outside the U.S. Supreme Court. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Energized by the Supreme Court's solid conservative majority, Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed one of the country’s most restrictive abortion measures into law on Thursday, criminalizing the procedure after the first detectable fetal heartbeat — which can be as early as 6 weeks into pregnancy.

The big picture: The "fetal heartbeat" measure, approved by the GOP-controlled legislature on Wednesday, prohibits abortion at a point when many women aren't even aware they are pregnant. The passage comes as a growing number of Republican-led state legislatures are unleashing a fierce assault on abortion rights by adopting similar bans.

Details: Per the Ohio measure, which former-Gov. John Kasich vetoed twice in 2016 and 2018, physicians who perform abortions — either after a heartbeat is detected or fail to do an ultrasound to detect one — would face a fifth-degree felony.

  • The doctors could serve between 6 to 12 months behind bars, face a $2,500 court fine, and a $20,000 fine from the State Medical Board of Ohio.
  • The law makes no exceptions for cases of rape and incest.

The state of play: "Fetal heartbeat" measures are popping up in Republican-controlled states across the country, despite facing numerous legal challenges along the way.

Why it matters: The nationwide push collides with Supreme Court rulings that allow abortions up to 24 weeks during pregnancy when the fetus is not viable — or when a woman's health or life is at risk. But that hasn’t stopped conservatives, emboldened by Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s elevation to the nation's highest court last year, from sharpening their focus.

  • Conservatives and anti-abortion groups could hardly be more blatant about their intent. They want to land a successful lawsuit before the Supreme Court to overturn or weaken Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 ruling that made abortion legal nationwide.

The bottom line: These measures are further polarizing the already politically charged issue of abortion access, especially on a more local level.

  • Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said Wednesday in a statement: "[This] is the next incremental step in our strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade. While other states embrace radical legislation to legalize abortion on demand through the ninth month of pregnancy, Ohio has drawn a line and continues to advance protections for unborn babies."
  • Just moments after DeWine signed the bill, the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted: "We'll see you in court."

Go deeper: Trump's anti-abortion push

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include that the Ohio governor signed the measure.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
7 hours ago - Science

China makes history with successful Mars landing

A model of the Tianwen-1 Mars rover is displayed during an exhibition at the National Museum of China in Beijing. Photo: Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images

A Chinese lander carrying a rover successfully touched down on Mars for the first time, state media reports.

Why it matters: This is the first time China has landed a spacecraft on another planet, and it launches the nation into an elite club of only a few space agencies to successfully make it to the Martian surface.

8 hours ago - World

UN: 10,000 Palestinians displaced in Gaza as Israel-Hamas fighting escalates

A Palestinian woman walks after she collects her belongings inside her damaged house following an Israeli air in the northern Gaza Strip. Photo: Ahmed Zakot/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The United Nations warned Friday that ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas "has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis," in not only the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel, but "the region as a whole."

The big picture: More than 125 Palestinians, including 31 children have been killed in Gaza since fighting began Monday, per the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Eight people, including two children, have been killed in Israel, Reuters reported, citing Israeli authorities.