Last year, anti-choice advocates in Ohio pushed extreme legislation to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected — which often occurs as early as six weeks, before many women may even know they’re pregnant. So-called “heartbeat” bills like HB 125 are so radical that they often divide the anti-abortion community, and this particular legislation has been stalled in the Ohio Senate since June 2011.
But now, thanks to significant pressure from the anti-choice groups who were the biggest proponents of the heartbeat bill last year, HB 125 may be up again for consideration in Ohio’s Senate as early as next week:
Mired in the Ohio Senate since June 2011, HB 125 is getting another look, Senate President Tom Niehaus, R-New Richmond, told The Enquirer Thursday. He said a substitute bill is being prepared. [...]
[Anti-abortion group Faith2Action] took aim at Niehaus and other legislators, including Sen. Shannon Jones, R-Springboro, trying to pressure them into moving the bill. They and other legislators were inundated with telephone calls, emails and post cards from supporters of the bill. TV ads, billboards and even an airplane circling the statehouse dragging a sign targeted legislators. [...]
Niehaus said he set conditions for reconsidering the bill. He would not say what those conditions are or whether the bill’s proponents had met them. That’s what he’s going to consider next week, he said.
If passed, Ohio’s bill would be the most restrictive abortion ban in the nation — far surpassing a bill in Arizona that currently earns that unfortunate distinction by banning abortions after 20 weeks. HB 125 would criminalize all abortions after the fetal heartbeat is detected without even the narrowest exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or the mental health of the woman.
Kellie Copeland, the executive director of Naral Pro-Choice Ohio, told the Cincinnati Enquirer that her organization was anticipating the Senate would take up HB 125 during this fall’s lame duck session. But she noted that this week’s election results are a clear indicator that voters reject radical anti-abortion legislation.
“Voters in Ohio and across the country clearly rejected this anti-choice agenda, the ability of women to make their own private medical decisions,” Copeland said. “That they would attempt these kind of major attacks less than a week after the election just shows that they don’t care what voters have to say. It’s their extremist agenda and voter sentiments be damned.”
The heartbeat bill isn’t the only anti-choice measure up for consideration in Ohio next week. A Planned Parenthood affiliate in Ohio notes that the Ohio House Health Committee has also scheduled a vote next week on a bill that would defund Planned Parenthood clinics in the state.