Several Ohio lawmakers announced their plan to reintroduce the so-called “Heartbeat Bill” to ban abortions after the first fetal heartbeat is detected. State Rep. Lynn Wachtmann planned a Thursday press conference to announce the revival of the bill, which passed the GOP-led House but failed in the Senate after its Republican President, Tom Niehaus, decided against bringing it to the floor in the last legislative session.
Sen. Niehaus, who termed out at the end of last year, cited fears that such a restrictive measure would have been declared unconstitutional and undone restrictions currently in place. Many in the Ohio anti-abortion community believe that court challenges to the bill will be as successful as those faced by a similar bill in North Dakota that a judge blocked because it was “clearly invalid and unconstitutional.”
Wachtmann seems unconcerned with these lingering constitutional issues, saying that he has 40 of the 99 Ohio House members signed on as co-sponsors. Even with Niehaus’s retirement, it is not clear whether the bill has the votes to pass the Senate.
Speaking on behalf of the Senate Majority Caucus, John McClelland reaffirmed his compatriot’s commitment to restricting access to abortions: “Our caucus has done a lot to advance the cause of life, and our members are satisfied with the work that we’ve done so far.”
The work they have done so far includes adding to the state budget a requirement for doctors to check for a fetal heartbeat and inform pregnant women if one is detected. Anti-abortion supporters believe that women who hear a fetal heartbeat are less likely to have an abortion.
The stars of The Learning Channel’s 19 Kids and Counting, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, are also expected to speak at the news conference.
[Image via the Ohio House of Representatives.]