In a state where more than 28,000 abortions were performed in 2010, supporters of life are putting their time, money and energy into Ohio legislation which they hope will drastically reduce that number by as much as 90 to 95%, and ultimately end abortions.
The Heartbeat Bill (HB 125), which passed the Ohio House of Representatives last June 28 but is now stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate — is unique in that it establishes the detection of a fetal heartbeat as the “key medical predictor” in determining whether or not an abortion can be legally performed by a doctor.
The bill, if signed into law, could have national implications by setting the stage for a U.S. Supreme Court legal challenge of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark law that legalized abortion.
“We are now one vote away from a bill that would restore legal protection to every unborn child whose heartbeat can be detected,” said Janet Porter, President of Faith2Action and spokeswoman for the Ohio legislative effort, in an exclusive interview with Big 3 News on Thursday.
According to the proposed legislation, “fetal heartbeat” is described as cardiac activity or “the steady and repetitive rhythmic contraction of the fetal heart within the gestational sac.”
Modern medical procedures are able to detect a fetus’ heartbeat as early as six weeks after fertilization.
Porter acknowledged that, while detection of a heartbeat is a universally-recognized indicator of life, the method does not go far enough to protect unborn babies from what she characterized as the beginning of life, or fertilization.
“If we can’t carry out every child, and rescue every child just yet, we can certainly carry out most of them into protection with the Heartbeat Bill,” Porter said.
And while the bill has predictable critics — the American Civil Liberties Union has threatened a lawsuit, calling it the “most radical abortion restrictions in the nation” — supporters find themselves in the ironic position of defending it against forces within the Ohio Right to Life organization.
On December 7, 2011, members of Ohio Right to Life gave testimony on HB 125 but did not endorse the bill. Instead, the group gave “strong support for a Heartbeat Informed Consent Law”, which would require women to be informed that their baby’s heart was detected, something the Heartbeat Bill also does.
“After 40 years of fighting this battle, we (the Right to Life movement) have this defeatist mentality,” Porter said. “What we’re dealing with is some folks who say, ‘we better not try because we might fail.’”
Porter said Ohio can and should lead on the pro-life issue — more than a dozen states have expressed an interest in drafting similar bills, although an effort in Mississippi was unsuccessful on grounds of constitutionality — and those in the movement who say it can’t be done should step aside and let those who believe it can be accomplished move forward.
“I’ve seen God do the impossible already, and we’re just asking Him to do it again,” Porter said, referring to Ohio’s state motto “With God, All Things Are Possible.”
In a move designed to help bring the bill to a vote in the state Senate, supporters have scheduled a May 19 rally at the statehouse. They are also flooding social media, printing ads in local newspapers, making telephone robo-calls and writing letters to legislators urging support for the bill.
“The Senate needs to act,” Porter said. “The Heartbeat Bill is on the two yard line, we’re fourth and goal right now. And what we’ve got to do is carry this bill over the line, over the end zone, for the victory.”
Porter added if they are successful in getting a Senate vote on the bill, “I believe we’re going to see the most protective bill signed into law by Gov. John Kasich. We’ve met with his folks who tell us he’s pro-life and we have no doubt he will sign the bill.”
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