COLUMBUS — Supporters of a proposed bill aimed at outlawing abortion when a beating heart can be detected say they have the backing of nearly half of the Republican-controlled Ohio House’s 99 members.
But the so-called “Heartbeat Bill” legislation, which would ban abortion as early as 18 to 24 days after conception, isn’t supported by the Ohio Right to Life Society. That organization is backing a number of other anti-abortion bills, including a ban on late-term abortions after 20 weeks except when necessary to prevent the death of the mother or the irreversible impairment of a major body function.
Mike Gonidakis, the group’s executive director, said the heartbeat legislation would not survive a court challenge. “Despite noble aspirations, there is no scenario under which the heartbeat legislation will be upheld by any court and therefore no lives will be saved by passage of this bill,” Gonidakis said in an e-mail. “Our goal is to protect the lives we can now and that is why we introduced the late-term ban.”
Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, chairman of the House Health Committee, is expected to sponsor the heartbeat bill when it is formally introduced on Feb. 14. or Valentine’s Day.
Janet Porter, a key backer and a former Ohio Right to Life legislative director, said, “If we never ask, we’re never going to get it.”
Added Rep. Mike Henne, R-Clayton, one of the lawmakers who said he plans to co-sponsor the bill: “I want to eliminate as many (abortions) as I can.”
But Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, called the bill a “full-scale attack on women’s reproductive rights in this state” at a time when lawmakers and Gov. John Kasich should focus on fixing the economy.
Several anti-abortion bills have already been introduced this year, reflecting the change of power in the Statehouse. Abortion opponents, including Kasich, currently occupy every key leadership post in state government.
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