Had Mitt Romney won the election in November, Ohio might be on its way to passing one of the most stringent anti-abortion measures in the country.
Ohio’s so-called ‘heartbeat bill’ would have banned abortion after a fetal heartbeat is found, sometimes as early as six weeks into pregnancy. But State Senate President Tom Niehaus (R-OH) told the AP that he tabled the legislation because of Romney’s loss, citing a changing Supreme Court as the bill’s clearest path to success:
Niehaus said a Romney win over Democratic President Barack Obama would have increased the likelihood of a lineup of new U.S. Supreme Court appointees that would be favorable to a legal challenge to the heartbeat measure. Backers had hoped the legislation’s passage would spark a legal challenge that could lead to overturning the high court’s landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, which legalized abortion up until viability, which is closer to 22 weeks after conception.
It’s no surprise that Niehaus put off a vote on the bill: As one of the strictest anti-abortion bills ever proposed, the bill was unpopular even among some abortion foes.
But Niehaus is also right in his assessment of what the election meant for anti-abortion advocates. A Romney presidency would have indeed have made the difference between Roe v Wade’s survival and its demise. And voters’ support for Obama — along with a sweeping rejection of state-level anti-choice candidates and legislation — signaled a desire to move away from the GOP’s stringent anti-abortion focus.