Ohio Senate puts end to 'heartbeat' abortion bill

Associated Press Modified: November 27, 2012 at 3:31 pm •  Published: November 27, 2012
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Proponents delivered bouquets of red heart-shaped balloons and teddy bears to lawmakers, flew banners over the Statehouse and eventually turned to angry full-page ads in the Columbus newspaper.

Opponents also grew vocal. They rallied at the Statehouse during key votes, arguing the legislation could endanger the lives of women, forcing them to seek the procedure in unhealthy circumstances.

Janet Folger Porter, president of Ohio-based Faith2Action and the bill's champion, said she was confident the legislation would be upheld in court.

"This is the closest we have ever been to protecting babies with beating hearts," she said when it passed the House. "When this passes, it will be the most protective legislation in the nation."

Porter led a charge to line up a host of high-profile supporters. They included Cincinnati physician Jack Willke, a former president of the National Right to Life Committee and founder of the International Right to Life Federation, and Phil Burress, whose Citizens for Community Values led the charge to ban gay marriage, among others.

But Ohio Right to Life's then-executive director, Mike Gonidakis, called it "the right idea at the wrong time."

Battling negative publicity over its neutrality on the bill, his chapter was selected to launch a 50-state effort to pass informed-consent bills tied to the fetal heartbeat, requiring that pregnant women see and hear the rhythm before agreeing to an abortion.

Supporters of that effort said statistics show women exposed to the fetal heartbeat are far less likely to go through with an abortion.

State Sen. Shannon Jones, a Springboro Republican, said she thought the bill would have passed in the Senate.

"I am hopeful and confident it will come up in the next General Assembly," she said.

That's what the head of one abortion rights group feared Tuesday.

"We don't believe for a second that this threat is over — perhaps delayed, but not over," said NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio director Kellie Copeland.