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March 30, 2011

Ohio's 'Heartbeat Bill' Advances to House, Divides Pro-Life Groups

A state committee approved a bill for the full Ohio House that would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat could be medically detected.

The bill has divided pro-life supporters, with Ohio Right to Life opposing the bill. Janet Folger Porter, director of Faith2Action network and a former legislative director of Ohio Right to Life, hopes the bill creates a legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. Here's more from the Associated Press:

Porter has led a charge to line up a host of high-profile supporters for the bill. They have included Cincinnati physician Jack Willke, a former president of the National Right to Life Committee and founder of the International Right to Life Federation, and Phil Burress, whose Citizens for Community Values led the charge to ban gay marriage, among others.

But Porter doesn't have the support of Ohio Right to Life, which fears the legal challenge she seeks could jeopardize other abortion limits in Ohio and expand access to legal abortions.

"As drafted, our position has been very clear. This bill had numerous negative consequences and unintended consequences," said Ohio Right to Life executive director Mike Gonadakis. "It's the right idea at the wrong time. Timing's everything in the pro-life movement."

Gonadakis said an unsuccessful court challenge that makes it to the U.S. Supreme Court could end up overturning Ohio's informed consent law, which mandates that a physician must meet with a woman seeking an abortion at least 24 hours before the procedure and that the woman must be given certain information and sign a consent form. He said the group has consulted its lawyers and will continue to share their thoughts with House members in hopes of blocking a vote by the full chamber.

The bill's future is unknown, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

House Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina, said yesterday he had not decided whether to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

"I don't have any plans for it at this point," he said. "I have a list of friends who helped me draft anti-abortion laws in the '80s and '90s, so I'll be calling them tonight. I want to talk to someone who teaches this in law school."

Gov. John Kasich has not taken a position on the measure, said the governor's spokesman, Rob Nichols.

The article also lists the bill's key provisions. An updated article suggests that Republicans tabled Democrat proposals that would exempt women in cases of rape or if their health was at risk. Across the nation, pro-life groups appear divided on "personhood amendments," defining the unborn as "persons" from the moment of conception.

Comments

What is being reported in the press is not entirely true. I am a Board Member of Ohio Right to Life and we never took a vote to oppose the Heartbeat Bill, nor did we vote to take an official position.

Myself, along with other Ohio Right to Life Board Members,including Dr. Jack Willke, a founder of National Right to Life, also strongly support the bill.

Our Executive Director, Mike Gonidakis, has taken a position to oppose this bill. However, he DOES NOT speak for Ohio Right to Life unanimously.