COLUMBUS, Ohio. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Ohio pro-life advocates are making their fourth attempt to pass legislation banning abortion after six weeks — when an unborn child's heart begins to beat.
The House bill (HB258), introduced on June 6, would be the strongest pro-life law in the United States. A similar law titled the Heartbeat Protection Act of 2017 was introduced at the federal level in January by Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King and has over 92 sponsors. HB258 has 50 sponsors and needs a total of 60 to override another veto.
The previous version of the bill, HB493, was passed overwhelmingly by the Ohio legislature by a 56–39 vote on December 6, 2016 but was vetoed by Gov. John Kasich, who considers himself pro-life.
Molly Smith, executive director of Cleveland Right to Life, told Church Militant that Ohio Right to Life and the Catholic Bishops of Ohio were instrumental in getting Kasich to veto the bill, who justified it by claiming certain parts of the bill were "clearly contrary to the Supreme Court of the United States' current rulings on abortion," asserting it was "in the public interest."
"The State of Ohio will be the losing party in that lawsuit and, as the losing party, the State of Ohio will be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to cover the legal fees for the pro-choice activists' lawyers," Kasich concluded.
He added that both North Dakota and Arkansas had passed similar legislation, only to be struck down by the courts and added any court challenges to the law would have invited "additional challenges to Ohio's strong legal protections for unborn life."
Smith noted the pro-life coalition carefully crafted the law using input from esteemed constitutional lawyers, including Dr. David Forte and that Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel assured Gov. Kasich any fees incurred by a court challenge would be privately paid for and would not cost the state any money.
She further added:
We knew before we put it in that there was going to be a challenge. However, when those bills were defeated ... that was under Obama, with a court that was not friendly. We will be getting at least one new judge if not two new judges on the Supreme Court. This was our opportunity to do this. It would have had to go through the process — it's a slow process — by the time we got this to [the] Supreme Court, we would have had the courts the way we needed them.
Despite the previous "missed opportunity" Smith believes unborn children in the state still have a chance. She is asking Ohioans to call their representatives and demand they sponsor HB258.
She told Church Militant, "If the heartbeat bill was to pass with a veto-proof majority, we can end 90–95 percent of abortions in the state of Ohio."