Abortion foes ready new Ohio attack

Posted on April 16, 2012

Herald Dispatch, April 16, 2012 by The Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Supporters of an Ohio bill that would impose the nation’s strictest abortion limit are preparing stepped-up attacks as lawmakers return to Columbus.

National Right to Life founder Jack Willke demands in a full-page newspaper ad expected to appear in the Columbus Dispatch on Tuesday that the bill restricting abortions after the first detectable heartbeat be passed right away and not be watered down.

Willke, of Cincinnati, says in the ad obtained by The Associated Press that without passage, the bill’s backers will fight to replace non-supporters in the fall election.

“Tell the Ohio GOP Senate to pass the strongest Heartbeat Bill now — or we will work to replace them with people who will,” Willke’s letter concludes. The 87-year-old Willke calls the bill’s passage his dying wish.

The ad, listing names and numbers of senators resistant to passing the bill, is to appear the first day of House and Senate sessions following lawmakers’ spring break. The effort will be accompanied by thousands of emails, and robocalls in which Willke asks abortion foes to inundate senators to get the bill passed.

The effort follows a month of relative quiet in the quest by the vocal anti-abortion group Faith2Action and a political action committee newly created this year to pass the bill.

The efforts were at first cute — heart-shaped balloons and teddy bears with visible red beating hearts delivered to persuade lawmakers — and later flashy, including a Statehouse flyover ad. Radio ads and billboards in key districts later sought to heighten pressure, especially on Senate President Tom Niehaus, other Republican leaders in the chamber, and several key senators who were holding out.

Coming more than a year into the battle, the latest ad campaign takes perhaps the most aggressive turn yet. Willke calls out GOP senators the anti-abortion movement helped elect, saying they have failed to deliver on their promises.

“Republican Senators who ran on a pro-life platform have been sitting on the Heartbeat Bill since it passed the Ohio House of Representatives in June of 2011,” he writes. “They will tell you that they have passed several pro-life bills this session; that is true, and we commend them for their regulatory bills. But make no mistake, when I founded the pro-life movement it wasn’t to regulate how abortions would be done, it was to bring the abortion killing to an END.”

Senate spokeswoman Angela Meleca said senators are in a holding pattern waiting for factions within the anti-abortion movement to iron out their differences on the bill.

“We feel it’s best for them to try to resolve issues as much as possible on their own,” Meleca said.

Ohio Right to Life, the state’s largest and oldest anti-abortion organization, has stopped short of supporting the measure — which it contends could not withstand a court challenge. Willke, who founded the organization, left its board last year — partly in protest of the stalemate.

Posted in: Ohio