Ohio Abortion Proposal Challenges Roe v. Wade

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Republicans won major victories in state elections last November and they are using their newfound majorities to restrict abortion.

Ohio is the battleground in the latest fight to restrict abortions. The state legislature has considered a measure known as the heartbeat bill that would ban abortions on any fetus once a heartbeat is detected.

"Once the heartbeat is detected the baby is protected," said Janet Folger, president of pro-life group Faith2Action. "Pretty simple. If you can hear that baby's heartbeat, then that child will be protected by law."

Heartbeats can be detected as early as 18 days after conception, and by six weeks in most cases.

In the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, women have the right to an abortion until their fetus is viable or able to live outside the womb. It's only at the point of viability that states can restrict abortion under the ruling.

"This bill totally eliminates the notion of viability and it pushes the ban way up into the first trimester, which is clearly unconstitutional," said Al Gerhadstein, a civil rights attorney.

A constitutional challenge to Roe v. Wade is what many pro-life Americans want. The heartbeat bill in Ohio is one of a handful of measures moving through various state legislatures aimed at restricting abortions.

The Indiana legislature has advanced a bill requiring doctors to tell women that life begins at conception and that as a result a fetus might feel pain at or before 20 weeks of development. It also requires women be informed an abortion can cause infertility and increases the risk of breast cancer.

In Texas, lawmakers have advanced a bill requiring doctors to perform a sonogram on women seeking an abortion, to describe whether the fetus has arms, legs and organs and offer to let the woman hear the fetal heartbeat.

Supporters said it's necessary because some doctors have denied women like Threesa Sadler the chance to see the sonogram.

"During my procedure, the screen was turned away from me the entire time I was seeking my procedure," Sadler said. "I asked if I could see the screen, if I could see the sonogram. I was told it is best that I not see it."

Opponents complained the legislation puts politics between patients and doctors.

"Requiring the performance of an ultrasound when a doctor does not think it is medically necessary or dictating the type of ultrasound that must be done is establishing what should be a professional standard of care by politics," said Dr. Margaret Thompson, OBGYN.

Whether the legislation in these state legislatures passes or not, newly elected Republicans have made it clear they intend to act on their pro-life principles.

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Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.