News Abortion

Ohio “Heartbeat” Bill May Be Off Until Next Year

Robin Marty

The senate leader says it's "too soon" to say if they will hear it or not.

In what is starting to look very much like death by over-analysis, the senate president of Ohio is now saying that the proposed ban on abortion after the point in which a heartbeat can be discerned still requires more legal insight and may not be brought up for a vote this year.

Via the Republic:

The Republican leader of the Ohio Senate says it is too soon to say whether his chamber would vote before the end of the year on a bill that would ban abortions in the state after the first detectable heartbeat….Niehaus has said that he wants the research group to report back in November after vetting any legal issues. The measure passed the Ohio House in June.

Sounds quite a bit like Niehaus is stalling.  I wonder if Ohio’s anti-choice community feels the same way.

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News Abortion

New Ohio Heartbeat Bill Filed

Robin Marty

Sponsored by state Reps. Christina Hagan (R-Alliance) and Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon), HB 248 would make most abortions illegal if performed once a fetal or embryonic heartbeat can be detected.

In Ohio, a new version of a heartbeat bill that would ban abortion as early as six weeks after a pregnant person’s last menstrual period was filed on Wednesday.

Sponsored by state Reps. Christina Hagan (R-Alliance) and Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon), HB 248 would “generally prohibit an abortion of an unborn human individual with a detectable heartbeat and to create the Joint Legislative Committee on Adoption Promotion and Support,” seeking to make most abortions illegal if performed once a fetal or embryonic heartbeat can be detected.

The move comes a few days after a press conference in favor of the measure that featured most of the Duggar family, of 19 Kids and Counting fame.

Unlike the 2011 Ohio heartbeat bill, which failed to get a vote in the state senate, this version of the bill states:

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The director of health may adopt rules pursuant to section 111.15 of the Revised Code specifying the appropriate methods of performing an examination for the purpose of determining the presence of a fetal heartbeat of an unborn individual based on standard medical practice. The rules shall require only that an examination shall be performed externally.

This language implies that under the bill patients would be given an abdominal—as opposed to a transvaginal—examination in an effort to detect a heartbeat. This technicality could add weeks to how long a pregnant person has to obtain an abortion, since an abdominal ultrasound or doppler is less likely to detect a heartbeat prior to 10 to 12 weeks. However, the repetition of “standard medical practice” language makes it unclear if that is the intent of the law, since standard medical practice for detecting a heartbeat early in a pregnancy is via a transvaginal ultrasound.

The type of ultrasound that would be required under the bill is just one of the contentious issues that is sure to receive heated debate if the bill gets a floor hearing. The bill contains no exception for people impregnated as a result of sexual assault. The bill states that if a heartbeat can be detected, an abortion can only be performed if the procedure is “intended to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or to prevent a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”

Also different from the 2011 heartbeat bill is an amendment to create a “joint legislative committee on adoption promotion and support”:

The committee may review or study any matter that it considers relevant to the adoption process in this state, with priority given to the study or review of mechanisms intended to increase awareness of the process, increase its effectiveness, or both.

The proposed committee is the latest effort by anti-choice members of the Ohio legislature to focus more resources on “abortion alternatives” programs. Earlier this year, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a budget bill that, among numerous amendments, included one that redirected money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to crisis pregnancy centers.

News Abortion

In a Room Crowded With Duggars, Ohio Republicans Pledge to Reintroduce Heartbeat Ban

Robin Marty

"We are ready to start the fire again," said state Rep. Christina Hagan at the press conference, which was filled with reporters as well as members of the Duggar family, reality television stars who have become some of the new faces of the evangelical anti-choice movement.

Calling it “round two in the state of Ohio,” state Rep. Christina Hagan (R-Alliance) led a Thursday afternoon press conference to announce that the state’s notorious heartbeat bill will be reintroduced in the house. If passed, the bill would make abortion illegal at as early as four weeks past conception (six weeks after the patient’s last menstrual period), before many people are aware they are pregnant.

“We are ready to start the fire again, and we are ready to go to battle for what we believe is most important in this world, and that is life,” said Hagan at the press conference, which was filled with reporters as well as members of the Duggar family, reality television stars who have become some of the new faces of the evangelical anti-choice movement.

“Did you really think we were going to give up? Really?” asked Janet Porter, whose anti-choice group, Faith2Action, was the force behind the original heartbeat ban. “Not gonna happen.”

“In America, it’s always a great day to work to save unborn babies,” said state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon), addressing critics who asked why he is trying to revive the failed bill, a version of which has already been blocked in court. “To those of you who say there is a war on women, I would remind you the real war on women is the abortionists, the slayers of the young babies, the young girls in their mothers’ womb, those who take their lives. That is the real war on women.”

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Speaking in favor of the ban was Michelle Duggar, matriarch of the 19 Kids and Counting family. With 17 of her 19 children in tow, Duggar spoke against the “baby holocaust” occurring in the United States, a talking point she also used at a Texas press event roughly a month ago: “There is a baby holocaust taking place, where doctors and nurses are paid to take the lives of innocent, unborn children. … If we do not speak up and do something to stop this holocaust, the blood of these little ones will be on our hands.”

Michelle’s oldest son, Josh, was recently named executive director of FRC Action, the political arm of the right-wing Christian group Family Research Council, an avid heartbeat ban supporter.

Proponents of the Ohio ban expressed support for a rash of new heartbeat bills that they say are about to be proposed in states like California and Missouri; they brushed off concerns that all currently passed bans are blocked. One reporter asked Rep. Hagan why the legislature didn’t wait until the North Dakota case was settled before introducing an identical bill. “Because we are Ohio lawmakers,” Hagan replied. (Watch the full press conference here, via Ohio Capital Blog.)

“This was bad legislation a year ago, and it’s bad legislation now,” said Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio President and CEO Stephanie Kight in a statement. “These Ohio legislators seem to be obsessed with regulating women’s health care and their decisions. We need our legislators to work toward expanding health care instead of restricting it. Ohioans don’t support this constant chipping away at access to women’s health care, and we will work to ensure that women’s rights aren’t trampled. Decisions about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy or raise a child must be left to a woman, her family, and her faith, with the counsel of her health-care provider—not politicians.”

The press conference preceded a Thursday evening fundraiser for Faith2Action, which featured the Duggar family. Also speaking at the event was Arkansas state Rep. Jason Rapert (R-Conway), the sponsor of a heartbeat ban in his state that passed earlier this year but was prevented by the courts from being enforced.