Tom Niehaus already had signaled his concerns about the “heartbeat bill.” On Tuesday, the Senate president shared his decision that the chamber would not take up the legislation banning abortion after the heartbeat of a fetus becomes detectable. Neither will the Senate use the lame-duck session to strike a funding blow against Planned Parenthood that would all but deny the organization federal money in Ohio.
Niehaus understands that the heartbeat bill would not pass the test of constitutionality, placing, as it does, an undue burden on abortion rights. He also explained that he looks “at the entirety of the work that’s done by Planned Parenthood” and rightly finds that it offers “much needed services that are not available other places.”
Here is an example of legislative leadership as it should be practiced, drawing lines with the interests of the whole foremost in mind. Unfortunately, Niehaus won’t return for the next legislative session. The next Senate president, Keith Faber, has made plain he won’t be so unfavorably inclined toward the “heartbeat bill” or to reducing funding for Planned Parenthood, and he will have a partner in a House led by Speaker William Batchelder.
So the Niehaus decision may amount to little more than a postponement.
Worth noting is that Niehaus did remind his colleagues that “we have been the most pro-life legislature in my memory.” The Republican majorities have moved to restrict the right to choose, government playing a more intrusive role in the private decisions of women. How much further will they go? The question is apt for John Kasich. The governor has joined his legislative allies so far. Is he ready to sign such an extreme measure as the “heartbeat bill”? Does he think it is wise policy to strip Planned Parenthood of federal money?