Ohio Lawmakers Consider 'Heartbeat' Abortion Bill

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New legislation introduced Wednesday in Ohio's House of Representatives would ban abortion at first detection of a baby's heartbeat.

Some say the measure known as the heartbeat bill, could propel the Buckeye State to the spotlight with a legal challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on abortion. 

"We are ground zero of what I believe will transform the pro-life movement," said the bill's architect Janet Folger Porter, president of Faith2Action and former Ohio Right to Life legislative director.

The Heartbeat Rule

Doctors can detect a baby's heartbeat sometimes as early as 18 days after conception. It's at that point that some legislators in Ohio would like to ban women from being able to seek an abortion.

"Once the heartbeat is detected the baby is protected. Pretty simple," Porter said. "If you can hear that baby's heartbeat, then that child will be protected by law."

"It will be the most protective legislation in the country," she said.
    
Pro-Choice Advocates Cry Foul
    
Civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein, who has defended abortion providers in past, said the measure won't get far.

"This bill totally eliminates the notion of viability and it pushes the ban way up into the first trimester, which is clearly unconstitutional," he said.

Becki Brenner , president and CEO of Planned Parenthood's Southwest Ohio Region, agreed with Gerhardstein.    

"I have to say that it won't pass constitutional review," she stated.
    
While abortion providers oppose the bill, pro-life supporters say now is the time to act, pointing to Republican gains in Columbus and in Washington.

"The goal for a lot of the legislative strategy is to have something that would get through committee, get out, would be declared unconstitutional, and make it up through the courts to the Supreme Court," said Paula Westwood, executive director of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati.

In the meantime, lawmakers in Texas, Georgia and Oklahoma watch to see what happens with the Ohio measure as they consider introducing similar legislation.

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