Senator: ‘Heartbeat’ bill needs revisions

Anti-abortion group plans ad campaign to push bill through Senate.

COLUMBUS — The “Heartbeat” bill has been stalled in the Senate for months, and Senate President Tom Niehaus said it will die there unless changes are made.

The bill would require physicians to inform a patient whether a fetal heartbeat is detected and prohibit abortion in the case a heartbeat is heard.

In a letter to Ohio anti-abortion advocates Wednesday, the Republican senator from New Richmond wrote that the bill likely would be found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Niehaus said that a lawsuit would take years to resolve, during which time more unborn children would be aborted.

A Mississippi senator killed a similar bill for the same reason last week.

“The promise of ‘ending nearly every abortion’ is uncertain at best and capable of creating a damaging legal precedent at worst,” Niehaus wrote in the letter.

The statement is a response to anti-abortion group Faith2Action’s recent media campaign for a Senate vote on House Bill 125. The group urged supporters to call state senators with a full-page ad in the Columbus Dispatch and thousands of robo-calls.

The group plans to buy full-page ads in senators’ hometown newspapers, beginning today with Sen. Keith Faber, R-Celina, said Janet Porter, the group’s leader.

“These are people who ran not to regulate abortion but to end it and they need to make good on their campaign promises,” Porter said Thursday.

The Catholic Conference of Ohio, Ohio Right to Life and National Right to Life organizations did not support the bill.

Bill sponsor Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, said Niehaus failed to listen to all experts and voices about the bill. The House narrowly passed the bill 54 to 44 last summer.

“It’s a shame the most pro-life caucus in Ohio — the Senate — can’t come to grips with this and see through the lies and cheating and misinformation put out by Ohio Right to Life,” Wachtmann said.

Wachtmann said Ohio Right to Life refuses to meet with him, but the organization’s president Mike Gonidakis said he’s reached out to Porter and Wachtmann with little success.

Gonidakis said the Heartbeat bill would be passable if the bill stuck to informing the patient of a heartbeat. He said more than 75 percent of women who see an ultrasound or hear a heartbeat keep their babies.

“Why would we initiate a legislative strategy that would not save any babies? We want to end abortion, we want to defund Planned Parenthood, but we want to do it responsibly,” Gonidakis said.

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