Ohio GOP Leader Pulls Plug on Social Policy Bills

Wednesday, 28 Nov 2012 11:32 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus says the state Senate won't act this year on a controversial heartbeat abortion bill or a measure aimed at eliminating public funding for Planned Parenthood.
The top Republican leader in the Senate, who is the final three weeks of his legislative career, made the announcement on Tuesday, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
“We have been the most pro-life legislature in my memory,” Niehaus told reporters. But he added that he wants to focus "on jobs and the economy" as the session winds down.
But Niehaus also appeared to raise concerns about the Planned Parenthood measure, which revises how public family planning money is distributed and moves the organization, which provides abortion services, to the bottom of the list of funding recipients.

The organization is prohibited from using public funding to support abortion services, but cuts could affect other services, a point Niehaus seemed to make when he spoke to reporters.
“From my perspective, we have to look at the entirety of work done by Planned Parenthood,” he told reporters, noting the measure could affect a variety of services offered by the organization that are not available in other places.
Republican House Speaker William Batchelder said he would speak to his caucus members about whether to push ahead with the Planned Parenthood bill, even though the Senate is backing away from it for now.
Meanwhile, the heartbeat bill, which has already passed the House, would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat could be detected, usually within the first eight weeks of pregnancy. But the bill, has been tied up in the Senate  because Ohio Right to Life has refused to support it because it still provides for legal abortions and could set back pro-life efforts to end all abortions.

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