Ohio’s ‘Heartbeat Bill’ Returns — And We Should All Be Scared

It’s been over six years since Janet Porter first convinced far-right Ohio legislators to introduce a bill in the state capitol that would ban abortion after a heartbeat could be detected – as early as four weeks after conception.

Since then, the bill has been voted on and blocked repeatedly. Supporters have displayed heart balloons, sent children carrying teddy bears to persuade politicians and produced advertisements about buses of children plummeting off cliffs to encourage lawmakers to move ahead with the restriction. Fetuses have even “testified” on the floor.

At the end of 2016, social conservatives finally managed to get a bill through both the house and senate — only to have Republican Governor John Kasich veto the measure when it arrived on his desk.

At that point, it seemed like we had finally reached the end of the heartbeat ban in Ohio. But, as it turns out, we were wrong.

Apparently fourth time’s a charm for Ohio’s abortion opponents, as Republican Rep. Christina Hagan reintroduced the heartbeat ban again this week. Despite the fact that it has failed to become law — again and again and again — Hagan remains positive that the time is right for an extreme, unconstitutional pre-viability abortion ban.

“I believe that children with beating hearts deserve protection in the state of Ohio, and we should work toward that effort regardless of what the political climate ever looks like,” she said, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “You can’t get distracted by variables you can’t control.” She added, “Every time we have the discussion about the validity of the child in the womb, I believe we save lives. As far as having the discussion on the House floor or in committee, I will have it at every opportunity and every turn of the way. I believe that these discussions encourage others to understand and extend that protection to the unborn, even if it’s those in the Senate or the executive branch that haven’t formerly supported the legislation.”

With Governor Kasich still in office, it would initially appear as if the bill is more publicity stunt than actual attempt to pass legislation that could stop abortion. After all, if Kasich vetoed the bill six months ago, why would he sign the same bill now? But bill backers claim that it’s necessary to try again, given the entirely different political landscape.

“[Cleveland Right to Life Executive Director Molly] Smith noted the pro-life coalition carefully crafted the law using input from esteemed constitutional lawyers, including Dr. David Forte and that Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel assured Gov. Kasich any fees incurred by a court challenge would be privately paid for and would not cost the state any money,” reports Church Militant, an anti-abortion group. “She further added: ‘We knew before we put it in that there was going to be a challenge. However, when those bills were defeated … that was under Obama, with a court that was not friendly. We will be getting at least one new judge if not two new judges on the Supreme Court. This was our opportunity to do this. It would have had to go through the process — it’s a slow process — by the time we got this to [the] Supreme Court, we would have had the courts the way we needed them.’”

Unfortunately, the heartbeat ban is worrisome for another reason that can’t be overlooked: its ability to give Kasich the opportunity to support lesser “moderate” restrictions.

Also coming to the floor in Ohio is a ban on D&E abortions — a ban that, if passed, would eliminate almost all abortions after the first trimester. As we saw in December, Kasich vetoed the last heartbeat ban only to then sign into law a ban on all abortions after 20 weeks post-conception.

Now, Kasich could very well be positioning himself to once more appear “moderate,” by vetoing the extreme heartbeat ban, hoping that a 14-week abortion ban would be seen as “reasonable” in comparison.

Despite at least four attempts, Ohio has never signed a heartbeat ban into law. The question is, what other unconstitutional abortion restrictions will the people of Ohio face in exchange for having this extreme ban tabled for another year?

Photo credit: Robin Marty

55 comments

Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

thanks for sharing

SEND
Sarah Hill
Sarah Hillabout a year ago

If life ends when the heart stops beating shouldn't life begin when it starts?

SEND
Penni B
Penni Babout a year ago

@Freya H, evidence submitted against your theory: http://dailycaller.com/2015/09/29/second-report-confirms-planned-parenthood-sting-videos-are-honest/

SEND
Penni B
Penni Babout a year ago

@Freya H, research helps when making claims about who has or has not edited videos. I suggest that anyone accused of malevolently editing should be considered innocent until proven guilty, just as I presume Mercy for Animals and PETA are. Evidence is needed before one goes around making unfounded charges, otherwise one may set oneself up for libel and slander charges.

SEND
Penni B
Penni Babout a year ago

@Freya H. Did I say anything about *not* donating to any of these groups? No, I did not. I agree with your premise though, that care for both the mother and older children , and the homeless and foster children is also important. I also donate to Dave Thomas' fund for Adoption of Foster Children as well as the Salvation Army and other groups helping the homeless. I would also like to make you aware of the fact : Crisis Pregnancy centers do far more than just 'help the woman with an unplanned pregnancy, they help with clothing for her, assist in helping her make the decision to either keep her child or permit her child to be adopted, and help her find work or means of support.

SEND
Amanda M
Amanda Mabout a year ago

A heartbeat is one of our automatic functions-it is NOT a true determinator of life. What truly constitutes life is CONSCIOUS BRAIN FUNCTION. Heartbeat, respiration, reflexes like blinking, etc. are controlled by the cerebellum, which is the first part of the brain to develop. Conscious brain function, including the five senses, doesn't develop until the THIRD trimester of pregnancy, well past the viability threshold currently set at six months. Therefore, the "heartbeat bill" and notion that a zygote is a "person" whose rights supersede those of the woman whose body is being invaded by the unwanted or medically doomed pregnancy are not based on scientific fact and are downright ludicrous. (Not to mention it's imposing their religious beliefs on the rest of us, including us non-Christians!). What's even more absurd and cruel is that these anti-choicers who holler the most about "protecting life" are also the same people who insist on cutting budgets for programs that help the already-born like Head Start, WIC, pre-K, food stamps, welfare, etc. You also don't see these anti-choicers clamoring to open their homes to foster kids or the older kids waiting to be adopted, either. HYPOCRITES. And Cruel J, thanks-now I've got that Monty Python song "Every Sperm Is Sacred" stuck in my head!

SEND
Freya H
Freya Habout a year ago

Kay B, Tabitha J, Penni B: How about giving some consideration to life AFTER birth? Penni, instead of volunteering at a "crisis pregnancy" center, how about volunteering at a homeless shelter or a food bank? How about supporting a network for battered women? How about providing assistance to refugees? Don't crow about your so-called concern for human life until you have done something for the LIVING. And, no, Planned Parenthood is NOT involved in any criminal activities. The video touted by the Center for Medical "Progress" was heavily edited - and painfully obviously so. If you don't like your tax dollars paying for abortions (in fact, thanks to the Hyde Amendment, no tax money can fund abortions - happy?), then I guess you're cool with your taxes funding the welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, subsidized housing and so on those children will need. And what about when they grow up and need jobs? Oh, that's right - they'll be needed to satisfy the demands of the Prison-Industrial Complex that needs lots of hapless schmucks to cram its cells and provide slave labor for greedy corporations.

SEND
Tabitha J
Tabitha Jabout a year ago

Life starts at conception. Your heart starts beating BEFORE you are born. If you support abortion, how would you feel if you heard your own mother say that she thought about aborting YOU? If you forgot, YOU were once in your mother's womb. Don't say that it's a woman's choice for abortion because your own mother could made that same "choice" for YOU of whatever or not you get to live while you were in your mother's womb.

SEND
Penni B
Penni Babout a year ago

The debate between the pro-life and pro-abortion groups will not be settled until both see the need for honesty, openness and real dialogue. The pro-lifer who does not donate to crisis pregnancy centers or volunteer at one should consider how pro-life he or she is. The same applies to the 'pro-choicer' who believes that all taxpayers should fund Planned Parenthood regardless of their potentially illegal actions, and regardless of the over 50% of the voting population who believe there should be some restrictions on abortion. If an animal were in excruciating pain that lead to death, all of us ,my self included, would go after the perpetrator. So is a pre-born child any different? And if not, why should we all be forced to pay for such actions with our taxpayer dollars? This law may well go too far, but it was a strong reaction to the actions of Planned Parenthood to cover up criminal activity. Pre-born babies are not the only victims of PP's shoddy practices, either. There have been complaints about them that range from perforated uterus to families who lost a loved one due to their malpractice. This bill may well go too far, but it is a natural (though maybe not justified) reaction to the excesses and harm caused by Planned Parenthood. Both sides should clean up their acts. Pro-lifers should not try to criminalize abortion, rather they should communicate the facts with grace and tact. Pro-'choice' advocates should advocate for the choice of all, no

SEND
Janis K
Janis Kabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND