Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus essentially killed the “heartbeat bill” (HB 125), legislation that would make abortion illegal as soon as a fetal heartbeat is medically detected, when he came out against it last week.
The “heartbeat bill” would inherently ban abortion in Ohio. A fetal heartbeat can be detected usually within the first eight to 12 weeks of pregnancy. By the time someone to finds out about a pregnancy, makes a decision about it and wades through mandatory red tape like counseling and a waiting period, it would probably be too late to have an abortion.
The bill has triggered an unprecedented split in Ohio’s pro-life community, which disagreed about whether it was a good legal strategy to enact legislation almost certain to be declared unconstitutional for going against the Roe v. Wade precedent.
“Respected pro-life legal experts, who have spent years advancing strategies to overturn Roe, told us that the risk of a bad ruling on Substitute House Bill 125 could have a negative and unintended consequence of reaffirming Roe v. Wade,” wrote Niehaus, a staunch pro-life Republican, in a statement. “Ohio Senate Republicans have done more in the past 16 months to advance the protection of unborn children than any previous General Assembly in state’s history.”
The bill has spurred faithful protests from choice supporters in the state for months. This is one of my favorite signs from the protests:
The “Heartbeat Bill” was first introduced during the last legislative session by State Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, a Republican from Henry County. Forty of 99 Ohio representatives have signed onto the bill.
In support of the bill, the Ohio House saw testimony from a 9-week-old fetus, intending to show that the fetus inside a womb is alive because it has a heartbeat. The testimony was delivered via an ultrasound on a pregnant woman, but the testifying fetus’s heartbeat was undetectable.