Hundreds of pro-life advocates gathered at the state legislature today to support a pro-life bill that has been introduced in Ohio and may be heading to other states that would ban abortions at the point when a unborn child’s heart starts to beat.
At 22 days into pregnancy, before most women know they are pregnant, unborn children complete the development of their heart to the point that a heartbeat begins and the bill, supported by the pro-life group Faith2Action, Operation Rescue, Life Issues Institute and other pro-life groups, would stop abortions at that point. The Ohio legislature took up the legislation this year and it received a legislative committee hearing and an approving vote from the state House.
The House, led by Republicans, voted 54-43 for the abortion ban, which now faces less certain prospects in the state Senate. With the Ohio Senate returning to its legislative session, Faith2Action organized a rally with other supportive organizations.
“This day signals the beginning of the end of abortion on demand,” Janet Folger-Porter, the head of the group, proclaimed at the rally, according to WTAM. She urged the pro-life advocates attending the rally to ask their state senators to not just support the bill but to co-sponsor it as well.
Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, the lead Republican sponsor in the House, also spoke at the rally and said the bill is needed to protect unborn children.
“How many astronauts, how many doctors, how many presidents, on and on and on – how many wonderful Americans are not on this earth because of abortion,” he said.
Abortion advocates oppose the bill and Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL’s Ohio affiliate, told Reuters she doesn’t think there are enough votes to get the measure out of the state Senate.
“It would outlaw abortion at a point in pregnancy when many women don’t yet realize they’re pregnant,” said Copeland, saying her group is “completely” opposed to the Heartbeat bill.
Some pro-life groups are not on board with the legislation, not because they oppose banning abortions but out of a concern that it will be struck down in court if passed, since the Supreme Court is currently dominated by at least a 5-4 pro-abortion majority. As a result, the legislation would be struck down in court and the ruling would add to the case law that supports Roe vs. Wade. Such groups are working to change the courts so Roe can be overturned and legislation like the Heartbeat bill or others could be approved to provide legal protection for unborn children.
Ohio Right to Life is one such group and it says on its web site that it supports an abortion ban but will push for one when it won’t be defeated in court — calling the bill “the right idea at the wrong time.”
Marshal Pitchford, chairman of the Ohio Right to Life Society, says the legislation is problematic because it would not be upheld in court.
“Legal analysts state that the “heartbeat bill” could also be interpreted by pro-abortion federal judges and abortion advocates to repeal other Ohio pro-life laws, such as informed consent requirements,” he said. “We cannot risk those repeals and a decade’s worth of work so many honest pro-life advocates have pursued to make Ohio a safer place for mothers and babies.”
Republican Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder is one of the Senate lawmakers concerned about the legal fate of the bill, saying he is worried lawmakers are “writing bills for the courts.”
Abortions have gone down in Ohio, with the state health department reporting 28,721 in 2009, down three percent from the 2008 abortion total and the ninth straight year of decline. Since 2000, abortions are down 40 percent in the state.
LifeNews.com Note: Photos courtesy of Operation Rescue.