Three Republican presidential contenders are now on record as supporting 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 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.
Now, three Republican presidential candidates have signed on to support the legislation, with pro-life Texas Gov. Rick Perry the latest to do so. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and pro-life Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota both supported the legislation in May and Perry added his name to the list of backers this week.
Perry, according to an AP report, announced his support for the legislation at a private gathering for conservative activists hosted by major Perry donor Dr. James Leininger.
“We’re grateful to Governor Perry for his strong support of the Heartbeat Bill. I don’t think there’s a bill in America with more support,” Faith2Action President Janet (Folger) Porter said. “At a meeting in Texas, Governor Perry announced his support before a group of 250 pro-life and pro-family leaders. His response of support to a question about the Heartbeat Bill received an extended standing ovation.”
George Voinovich, the former Ohio governor and senator, also announced his support for the bill.
Faith2Action is planning an Ohio Statehouse rally in support of the bill on September 20, when the Ohio Senate returns to its legislative session. The House, led by Republicans, voted 54-43 for the abortion ban, which now faces less certain prospects in the state Senate.
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 a 5-4 pro-abortion majority, at least. 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.
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.”
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.