Ohio Anti-Abortion Lawmaker Accuses Radical ‘Heartbeat’ Bill Advocates Of Fudging The Facts

Posted on May 7, 2012

Think Progress, May 7, 2012 by Igor Volksy

The Republican Senate president in Ohio is lashing out against radical pro-life activists who are pressuring conservatives in the state to advance the so-called heartbeat bill, which would outlaw abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The measure has already passed the House and if adopted could outlaw abortion six or seven weeks into a pregnancy — even before many women know that they’re pregnant. It offers no exceptions for rape, incest, or mental health, but does provide an opt out in cases of “serious physical harm to the mother.”

In a letter addressed to “Fellow Pro-life Ohioans,” Thomas Niehaus defends the Senate’s anti-abortion record, but argues that this particular bill is too radical and accuses anti-abortion activists of lying about the measure:

[T]he leaders of an organization called Faith2Action have made exaggerated and inflammatory statements about the status of Substitute House Bill 125 without offering a full explanation of the debate that has emerged within the pro-­‐life community. Their claim that we “lose more than a school bus full of children everyday” due to a lack of Senate action on the bill is simply false, and I will not continue to allow the organization to question the commitment of my colleagues to ending the scourge of abortion. Ohio Senate Republicans have done more in the past 16 months to advance the protection of unborn children than any previous General Assembly in our state’s history.

Faith2Action recently paid for a series of advertisements and automated phone calls featuring Dr. Jack Willke, a longtime leader in the Right to Life movement. I have known Dr. Willke for many years. He was my pediatrician. While I greatly respect the work he has done to advance the pro-­‐life cause, I believe it is important to note that respected legal experts strongly disagree with him on this particular piece of legislation.

“The bill as passed by the House of Representatives likely would be found unconstitutional under the current abortion precedent established by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Niehaus notes in his letter and instead calls on activists to support a comprehensive measure that all factions could agree on.

Backers of the legislation have found novel ways of wooing lawmakers who are on the fence. In January, they enlisting children to deliver teddy bears with heartbeats to Senate offices and recruited a nine-week-old fetus to “testify” to the House Health Committee via sonogram. Several months later, when the bill was before the state senate, Republicans brought in the then-nine-week-old baby to act as a “silent witness.”

The heartbeat bill is so extreme that it has actually divided the anti-abortion community in Ohio. Ohio Right to Life has withheld its support, arguing that the bill is “likely to backfire” and set back their cause. The blatantly unconstitutional legislation flouts the the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling that forbids states from banning abortions until the fetus is viable, which is generally around 22 to 24 weeks.

Posted in: Ohio