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.

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