Ohio bill would outlaw abortion at heartbeat

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COLUMBUS — With strong representation from the Dayton area, a group of Republican lawmakers on Wednesday used a Columbus press conference to announce their support for legislation to outlaw abortion once a beating heart can be detected.

“We’re here today to give a voice to the unborn,” Rep. Peter Beck, R-Mason, said.

“Heartbeat? Life? It just makes sense,” said Rep. Mike Henne, R-Clayton.

Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, sponsor of the bill, said that if it becomes law he expects an immediate challenge and hopes the bill becomes a vehicle that ultimately leads to a U.S. Supreme Court decision limiting abortions.

Dr. Alan Murnane, a physician from Westerville, a Columbus suburb, said the heartbeat can be detected at five weeks.

Violation of the law by a doctor would be a felony, said Linda Porter, president of Faith2Action and a former legislative director of Ohio Right to Life. It probably would be a fifth degree felony, punishable by up to 12 months of imprisonment, she said.

The actual bill still is being drafted and will be available next week for Valentine’s Day, said Porter.

The Ohio Right to Life Society does not support the bill, said Mike Gonidakis, president. The group supports the concept, but thinks there is no scenario under which a court would uphold the bill, he said.

Instead, the group is focusing on three other anti-abortion bills, including one to ban late-term abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, blasted the bill.

“We voted for jobs and economy. We got a full-scale attack on women’s reproductive health.”

At the press conference, Wachtmann said lawmakers are capable of working on both the economy and other issues.

“We can do a lot of things simultaneously,” he said.

About half a dozen protesters carrying signs against the bill were outside the hotel.

“I’m for choice,” said Elizabeth Kimble, 25, a social worker from Columbus. “It takes away choice.”

Other Dayton-area state representatives at the press conference were: Paul Hackett, R-London; Jarrod Martin, R-Beavercreek; John Adams, R-Sidney and Ron Maag, R-Salem Twp.

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