Ohio Cmte OKs Heartbeat Bill Banning Abortions, Pro-Lifers Split

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 30, 2011   |   4:40PM   |   Columbus, OH

An Ohio state legislative committee has approved the “Heartbeat Bill” that would ban virtually all abortions in the state starting at the 22-day mark when an unborn child’s heart begins beating.

The legislation has the support of some pro-life advocates but neither  Ohio Right to Life opposes the bill because of various concerns about its ability to survive a court challenge.

The Health and Aging Committee voted 12-11 today for the bill and the measure would go to the full House floor for a debate and vote but the Dayton Daily News indicates Speaker William Batchelder, a Republican, says he has no plans to bring up the bill for consideration at least until he has a chance to talk to some advisors about it. During the vote, two Republicans, Reps. Mike Duffey of Worthington and Richard Hollington of Cleveland, joined the committee’s Democrats to vote against the bill while the remainder of the panel’s Republicans voted for it.

Gov. John Kasich, who is pro-life, has yet to take a position on the legislation.

Janet Folger Porter, president of Faith2Action, a pro-life group, is one of the strong supporter of the legislation and was pleased the committee approved it while Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL, opposed the bill.

The bill has divided the pro-life community in Ohio with Porter’s group supporting it along with Paula Westwood, Executive Director of Cincinnati Right to Life, Bobbi Radeck, state director of Concerned Women for America, and Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values, supporting the measure.

But Marshal Pitchford, chairman of the Ohio Right to Life Society, says the legislation is problematic because it would not be upheld in court thanks to the 5-4 pro-abortion majority currently on the Supreme Court. If the bill is declared unconstitutional, Right to Life is concerned current pro-life laws that limit abortions and have saved lives would be overturned as well and result in an increase in the number of abortions.

“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.”

Some “heartbeat bill” proponents say they followed the advice of several legal scholars when they drafted this bill, including a Cleveland State University professor but Pitchford says the same professor stated that the “heartbeat bill” should not be passed now and prefers to see a post viability ban be passed first or, otherwise, it would be “irresponsible and self-defeating to our cause” and could create additional legal problems for a total ban on abortion.