Ga. among states watching Ohio abortion ban bill

Monday, Feb. 7, 2011 7:46 PM
Last updated 11:27 PM
  • Follow Latest News

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio will be the testing ground for a new approach to limiting abortions that would prohibit women from ending pregnancies at the first detectable fetal heartbeat, sometimes as early as 18 days after conception.

Republican state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann is preparing to unveil the so-called Heartbeat Bill on Wednesday. It is the first proposal of its kind in the nation, with Texas, Georgia and Oklahoma among states watching closely.

The bill was created by Janet Folger Porter, a native Ohioan and president of the conservative interest group Faith2Action. She says she helped craft the nation's first ban on late-term abortions as a then-legislative director at Ohio Right to Life and again picked Ohio to be at the forefront. Forty of 99 Ohio representatives have signed onto the heartbeat bill.

"We can't carry all the babies out of the burning building in one trip, but this bill will carry most of them out with it," Porter said. "With this legislation, we can save more than 20,000 lives a year. We've been taking baby steps for a long time. This is a leap."

Lobbying for the bill with Republican Gov. John Kasich and the Republican-controlled state Legislature will take the form of heart-shaped balloons sent to their offices. The bill also is being promoted on a website that features a music video complete with dancing babies and a few fetuses appearing to keep the beat from inside the womb.

"After all, Ohio is the 'Heart of it All,' so it's only fitting that we protect our fellow human beings with beating hearts," Wachtmann said in a release announcing the bill. "Already, other states are looking to Ohio to lead the way and provide model legislation for them to pass in their states."

Kellie Copeland, executive director of the abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, called all the fun images distasteful.

"It trivializes something that's really serious," she said. "If you're going to outlaw abortion in the first trimester, at a point when many women don't even know they're pregnant, it's not a warm fuzzy balloon situation."

Copeland said the vast majority of abortions in Ohio take place within the first three months of pregnancy and those that take place later are most often associated with medical emergencies.

"My immediate reaction is Ohio's facing this huge budget deficit, this economic crisis, and here you've got the chairman of the House Health Committee moving legislation that would plunge the state into years of costly litigation," she said. "This would be litigated immediately, and that's not going to be free. Meanwhile, we're talking about cutting Medicaid funding and women's health care."

Porter said she advocates abortion foes pursuing their goals regardless of legal consequences.

"Here's my feeling: I don't think we're called to sit on our hands and do things that only (U.S. Supreme Court) Justice (Anthony) Kennedy likes. Our role in a representative democracy is to approach our representatives, and that's exactly what we've done," she said. "I predict this is going to spark a wildfire."

Backers of the Ohio bill believe its strength is in its basis in science, as opposed to a moral message.

In his letter unveiling the bill to fellow lawmakers last week, Wachtmann pointed out, "Cardiac activity begins at a relatively precise moment in time, and the fetal heartbeat is readily detected with modern medical equipment of modest cost." The heartbeat can be heard within 18 to 24 days of conception at the earliest, and in almost all cases by six weeks.

"The pro-aborts are terrified because they know that this is going to work," Porter said. "They realize that we have taken from them all of their scare tactics and we have the strongest arguments."

"Saying it doesn't make it so," Copeland retorted. "They can proclaim what they want. The fact is we still have a Constitution and legal precedent in this country. This bill is blatantly unconstitutional, and they know it."

A spokesman for Kasich said the governor "is pro-life and believes in the sanctity of life" but will not weigh in on individual pieces of pending legislation.

Comments (1) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
usapatriot 02/08/11 - 01:14 am
The irony here is how many

The irony here is how many states have laws where the death of a pregnant woman will result in a murder charge of the fetus too. However, the mother could go and kill that fetus purposely and not be charged.


"A wave of new state fetal homicide laws recognizing a fetus “of any gestational age” as a person and potential crime victim has abortion rights advocates worried the statutes could undermine a woman’s right to end her pregnancy."

"This year, (2006) Alabama, Alaska, Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia passed new fetal homicide statutes making it a separate offense to kill a fetus when a pregnant woman is murdered or assaulted. All five new laws apply to fetuses starting at conception."

"At least 38 American states have introduced their own laws regarding homicide, or feticide, of unborn children. This includes Texas, where there are penalties for bringing about injury or death of any individual. The law defines "individual" as any live human being, from gestation onward."

"Rhode Island criminalizes the willful killing of any unborn child by manslaughter of the mother, and California defines murder in the usual terms of "killing with malice aforethought," but includes "fetus" in its legal wording."

"A law introduced in Utah in 2010 expanded the terms of criminal feticide to include any "reckless" act performed or consented to by the mother of the unborn child. State Rep. Carl Wimmer proposed the law after hearing of a case in which a girl paid a man to beat her when she was 7 months pregnant with the aim of miscarrying her child."

But, I guess it's ok for the mother to make a decision to abort a child that could live outside the womb.

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs