Ohio Senate Republicans plan to move through committee the so-called “heartbeat” bill, which would ban abortions in Ohio once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, Senate President Tom Niehaus told the Cleveland Plain Dealer
Niehaus said a four-month stalemate on the legislation has broken, and his caucus is ready to work on committee hearings that he and other Republicans hope will lead to passing legislation. If the bill passes and withstands legal challenges, Ohio’s abortion laws will become the most restrictive in the United States.
The Ohio House already passed the bill in June, but it has sat for nearly five months and has not been referred to a Senate committee.
The Senate GOP’s decision to quit postponing the bill may have come because of pressure from a large state anti-abortion group, Ohio Pro Life Action.
The organization began running television advertising on Fox News programs in the Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati markets, stating that “every single day the Senate delays a vote on the heartbeat bill, a school bus full of children’s lives are lost,” and imploring viewers to call their GOP state senators.
Linda Theis, spokeswoman for Ohio Pro Life Action, welcomed the news the bill would soon be headed for a committee, and said she thinks her group’s campaign made an impact.
Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said Republicans are essentially making abortions illegal and trying to return Ohio to the past.
“It’s not going to end abortions, it’s going to make them illegal and dangerous,” she said. “Where does he [Niehaus] think women are going to go?”
It’s not yet known if Republican Gov. John Kasich, will approve the bill, although he has “been consistently pro-life all of his public life,” a spokesman said.
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