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Ohio ‘heartbeat’ abortion bill to be reintroduced

By Ann Sanner
Associated Press

COLUMBUS: Backers of an Ohio bill to effectively ban abortions after the first detectable fetal heartbeat are declaring Round 2 in what is probably an uphill fight.

Several state lawmakers said Thursday they are reintroducing the so-called “heartbeat bill,” which could prohibit abortions from being performed as early as six weeks into pregnancy. It failed to clear the legislature last year after an intense lobbying effort.

This time around? “We’re not willing to take no for an answer,” said Republican Rep. Christina Hagan, of Alliance.

But Hagan acknowledged the proposal could get pushback in the Republican-dominated Senate, where the bill met its demise last year. The then-GOP leader blocked it from a vote before the session ended. The Republican-controlled House had passed the bill in June 2011.

Asked by reporters what she has heard from senators, she said, “There’s a little bit of hesitation.”

Supporters hope the stringent nature of the heartbeat bill will provoke a legal challenge with the potential to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion up until viability, usually at 22 to 24 weeks.

A spokesman for the Senate Majority Caucus noted the measure could change if it should get to the chamber.

“Our caucus has done a lot to advance the cause of life, and our members are satisfied with the work that we’ve done so far,” spokesman John McClelland added.

Ohio lawmakers added abortion restrictions into the state budget that passed in late June. Among them was a requirement for doctors to check for a detectable fetal heartbeat and share the information with the pregnant woman before she consents to an abortion.

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, stars of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, appeared at Thursday’s news conference to promote the bill.


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