Ohio “ground zero” in abortion war

Posted on May 14, 2012

Greeley Gazette, May 14, 2012 by Matt Lacy

The founder of the pro-life movement says for the first time in many years, he has hope that he could see the end of abortion before he dies, because of a bill in Ohio that would outlaw abortion, however supposed pro-life Republicans are preventing its passage.

While many are focused on Personhood measures that are in the process of getting on ballots in several states, many pro-lifers may not realize that currently Ohio is ground zero for the abortion movement and that all abortions could soon be illegal in the Buckeye state.

While some may disagree whether life begins at conception, most agree that it is a living being once the heart begins beating. The Ohio Heartbeat bill, which passed the house nearly a year ago, would prohibit all abortions after the child’s heartbeat is detected, except when necessary for the physical health of the mother.

While the bill has drawn the usual critics such as the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, the threat to the bill’s passage is coming from pro-life Republicans who are attempting to water down the bill.

In December, the leader of the Ohio Senate abruptly suspended hearings on the bill claiming the amendments were making the bill confusing.

In an attempt to force lawmakers to act on the pro-life values they campaigned on, Faith2Action, a pro-life organization is doing a series of steps to hold the senate accountable including a pro-life rally at the statehouse on May 19.

The bill has revealed a “tea party” type movement within the pro-life community. On the one hand, there are the established pro-life organizations such as Ohio Right to Life which have called for a gradual chipping away of abortion rights. However, there is a growing segment of individuals within the movement that are fed up with 40 years of these types of tactics, and are instead calling for a full frontal assault on Roe v. Wade.

Janet Porter, president of Faith2Action, states, “We will no longer allow babies with beating hearts to be ripped apart by Senate excuses and political games. It’s not enough to regulate abortion, it’s time to end it.”

The organization is running an ad in the Columbus Dispatch on Tuesday that makes it plain that the pro-life community is weary of Republican lawmakers who claim to be pro-life in an attempt to garner pro-life votes, but refuse to take meaningful steps to end abortion.

A similar ad last week was accompanied by 50,000 e-mails to grassroots supporters, 10,000 phone calls, inserts in hundreds of church bulletins and hundreds of calls and e-mails to Senate offices.

The ad features a poignant open letter from Dr. Jack Wilke, who founded the Right to Life movement 40 years ago.

“I’m 87 years old and once thought that I would not live to see the end of abortion. However, since passage of the heartbeat Bill in the Ohio House, I have renewed hope.”

Wilke admits at one time he was one of those who believe in the gradual approach. “I was Mr. Incremental,” he said. “But after nearly 40 years of abortion on demand, it’s time to take a bold step forward.”

Not mincing words, Wilke makes it plain that this time around, it is not the pro-abortion Democrats who are obstructing the bill, rather it is the Republican senators who ran on a pro-life platform but are now refusing to act on the bill.

“After 40 years in the wilderness, we are a Senate vote away from the promised land of protecting babies whose heartbeats can be heard.”

In the letter to the state senators, Wilke says, “Talk is cheap. And abortion regulation is woefully inadequate. Because they told us they would end abortion, we sacrificially wrote checks, tiresomely stuffed envelopes, made calls, knock on doors, distributed ballot cards and photo these legislatures in the office,” he lamented. “We didn’t elect him to regulate abortion but to end it. Ohio Senate Republicans can no longer call themselves “pro-life” while refusing to pass the fully protective Heartbeat Bill.

Janet Porter, president of Faith2Action says many pro-lifers are tired of halfhearted attempts by legislators who appear to want to have it both ways on the pro-life issue.

“We’ve answered every objection. We’ve jumped through every hoop. We’ve shown them more support than for any bill in America. It’s time for Senate leadership to quit hiding behind empty excuses and bring the fully protective Heartbeat Bill to a floor vote or admit the pro-life platforms they ran on were a charade.”

While the bill would enact the strictest abortion prohibitions in the nation, there is some opposition among pro-lifers who believe the bill does not go far enough. They reason that by prohibiting abortions several weeks into pregnancy when a heartbeat is detected, it will weaken the ultimate goal of protecting all of the  unborn.

Porter says she agrees with those who want to extend protections to everyone including the moment of conception; however she says this bill is moving the battle in the right direction.

“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.”

She said with the Hearbeat the pro-life community has never been this close to outlawing abortion.

“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 also rejects the critics who say a defeat could set back the pro-life movement if the case were to reach the Supreme Court and receive an unfavorable ruling.

“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.’”

Wilke said the time for patience has passed. “No one can tell us we have been patient; but after 40 years and 54 million dead babies, the time to protect them has come.”


Posted in: Ohio