News Abortion

Ohio Senate Leader To Supporters of “Heartbeat Ban:” Shut Up Already!

Robin Marty

Looks like the senate president has gotten a little tired of Faith2Action.

In Oklahoma, fertilized-egg-as-person advocates pushed their GOP representatives too far in trying to force a bill up for a vote, and received a lashing from their own legislators.  Now, “heartbeat” ban activists in Ohio are getting an earful from the Republican senate president they have been trying to strong-arm into holding a vote.

Senate President Tom Niehaus sent a strongly worded letter regarding the anti-choice activists pushing for a ban that would make it illegal to abort an embryo after a detectable heartbeat could be found — as early as four weeks post conception. His message?  Just back off already.

[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.

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With references to multiple legal opinions on how the law would never go into effect, could reinforce Roe V. Wade, and how Mississippi also chose not to vote on a similar measure, the fate of the heartbeat ban may have been officially decided in Ohio.

News Abortion

Ohio Senate GOP Passes 20-Week Abortion Ban

Nina Liss-Schultz

The Ohio Senate on Wednesday approved a ban on abortion after 20 weeks' gestation only hours after it went through committee.

The Ohio Senate’s GOP majority on Wednesday approved a ban on abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation only hours after it went through committee. SB 127, which anti-choice group Ohio Right to Life called its “legislative priority” this year, was passed after exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother were removed from the measure.

The bill passed in a 23-9 vote and will now move to the Republican-led state house for approval.

The bans are unconstitutional—abortion is protected by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood Southeast Pennsylvania v. Casey until the point of viability—and rest on evidence disputed by the medical community that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks’ gestation.

Ohio is one of at least ten states to introduce so-called fetal pain abortion bans this year. A similar ban was passed in West Virginia after the GOP-majority state legislature overrode the governor’s veto. The Wisconsin Senate passed a so-called fetal pain bill this month.

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The South Carolina legislature will next January take up a 20-week ban despite arguments between conservative legislators that the bill was too lenient because it included exceptions for rape and incest. Those exceptions were eventually removed.

Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis, who also serves on the state medical board, called SB 127 “the most important piece of legislation Ohio Right to Life has passed in quite a long time,” adding that the measure is “a strategic step into hopefully some day ending abortion.”

News Abortion

Heartbeat Ban, 72-Hour Waiting Period Laws Likely To Be Debated in Kansas

Teddy Wilson

Kansas legislators are likely to debate legislation that could effectively ban abortion as early as three weeks' gestation.

Kansas legislators are likely to debate legislation that could effectively ban abortion as early as three weeks’ gestation despite the repeated failure of such bills in even the most conservative state legislatures. A bill to ban abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected is expected to be introduced, and other anti-choice bills are also on deck in the Republican-dominated legislature.

Rep. Steve Brunk (R-Wichita), chairman of the federal and state affairs committee, told the Wichita Eagle that the committee will likely hold informational hearings on heartbeat legislation. “As a general topic, heartbeat legislation is on the table,” Brunk said.

A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks of pregnancy, two weeks after a woman has first missed a period, and before many women may realize they are pregnant.

Brunk also said that extending the state’s waiting period for women seeking abortion from 24 to 72 hours could be considered by state lawmakers in 2015. Last year, Republican lawmakers in neighboring Missouri passed legislation extending the state’s waiting period from 24 to 72 hours, overriding Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto.

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Brunk has a history of co-sponsoring anti-choice legislation. During the 2011 legislative session he co-sponsored HB 2218, which was passed and signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback (R). The law bans abortion at 22 weeks’ gestation, and was justified by the disproved theory of fetal pain.

No bills to restrict abortion have been pre-filed by lawmakers in the Kansas house or senate.

During the 2014 legislative session lawmakers focused on bills to make changes to existing abortion restrictions. HB 2508 and companion bill SB 448 were introduced to modify HB 2253, a 47-page omnibus anti-abortion bill containing multiple abortion restrictions that was introduced during the 2013 session.

The constitutionality of the abortion restrictions in HB 2253 was challenged by two lawsuits. Lawmakers failed to pass HB 2508, but the language of bill was inserted into SB 54 through a legislative procedure known as the “gut and go” process.

Heartbeat bans and other “personhood” measures have been a divisive issue in the anti-choice movement. Lawmakers in Republican-controlled state legislatures passed more than 200 laws over the past four years restricting access to abortion, but attempts to pass heartbeat bans or “personhood” laws have been rebuffed by lawmakers and voters alike.

Brunk told the Wichita Eagle that he has the votes in both the house and senate for a heartbeat ban, but that the success of the bill depends on how it’s written. “We want to proceed appropriately and not just put legislation together that wouldn’t work,” Brunk said. “It’s got to be the right language.”

A heartbeat ban was introduced during the 2013 legislative session, but it died in committee. HB 2324 would have prohibited abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected, with the exception of a medical emergency.

During the 2013 legislative session, Kansas lawmakers introduced a resolution to create a legislatively referred “personhood” ballot initiative.

The Kansas legislature convenes on January 12.