By Marc Kovac
Does the Heartbeat Bill still have a heartbeat?
Backers of the legislation, which would ban abortions within weeks of conception, think so, and they’re hoping to persuade 17 Republican senators to back a plan that would force a floor vote.
“The Republican Senate majority has the power to force a floor vote — regardless of Niehaus’ obstruction,” Lori Viars, vice president of Warren County Right to Life, said in a released statement. “They’ve had two years to pass this bill. Are Senate Republicans who ran as pro-lifers really going to let this bill die?”
Senate President Tom Niehaus, a Republican from New Richmond, said earlier this week the latter was not going to happen after he pulled the plug on the legislation and another bill that would cut funding to Planned Parenthood, via a prioritization of public funding to other women’s health-care centers.
The move brought cheers from groups that want to ensure abortions are legal and available to women, though such advocates voiced concern about future attempts at passage.
“Make no mistake about it, the threat to women’s health may be delayed, but it remains,” Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said in a released statement. “We fully expect anti-choice forces to reintroduce these dangerous attacks on women’s health when the Legislature reconvenes in January.”
But Niehaus’ decision brought criticism from backers of the Heartbeat Bill, who postponed what they promised would be an ugly campaign season against incumbent Republicans after receiving assurances that the legislation would be considered after the general election.
Janet Porter, president of Faith2Action, said her group, which initiated the legislation, and Ohio Right to Life, which opposed it, met during the summer recess and worked out their differences.
Michael Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, confirmed that the two sides had found “common ground.” And he said he was disappointed legislation backed by his group, including the Planned Parenthood funding bill, would not pass this year.