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New Anti-Abortion Group’s First Goal: Pass “Heartbeat Bill”
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The bill that would ban abortions after the first medically-detectable fetal heartbeat cleared the Ohio House earlier this year. But despite months of pressuring lawmakers, rallies and prayer vigils, it has been stuck in the Senate.
So supporters are trying a different strategy.
It’s called Ohio Prolife Action, a 501 C 4 group that will work to outlaw abortion in Ohio. Janet Folger Porter is the head of Faith to Action, one of the groups backing the new political action committee. She says the first order of business is the Heartbeat Bill.
“I donâ€™t think thereâ€™s a bill in America with more support than the Heartbeat Bill,” Folger Porter says. “And I donâ€™t believe there is more support in the state of Ohio for any legislation than the Heartbeat Bill. And how encouraging it is to know that there is a new statewide organization that actually stands for babies with beating hearts but brings with it such authority, such influence, such impact.”
Folger Porter says that influence and impact comes from supporters of the Heartbeat Bill, from pro-family groups, to elected leaders, to more than 30 local right-to-life chapters in Ohio.
One name thatâ€™s conspicuously missing from that list: Ohio Right to Life.
The statewide organization is not supporting the Heartbeat Bill, but itâ€™s not opposing it either. Director Mike Gonadakis says his group welcomes another group into the fight against abortion. He says this group is not a threat to Ohio Right to Life. And Gonadakis sees this as no different than whatâ€™s happened nationally with various groups.
“We have groups like our group, National Right to Life, but we also have great groups like Americans United for Life, Susan B. Anthony, obviously the Catholic Bishops, what have you, and the more the merrier,” Gonadakis says.
Gonadakis says his group is supporting a national bill that would require abortion providers to make the heartbeat of an unborn child visible and audible to its mother as part of her informed consent. As far as Ohio’s Heartbeat Bill is concerned, Gonadakis says his organization has legal questions about it.
“We agree with the intent. We think all babies, from the moment of conception, should be protected and the intent of the heartbeat bill is absolutely supported across state lines. Itâ€™s just the tactics as it relates to the legal problems we have that we need to continue to work to make it the best bill possible.”
Reporter: “Do you think the Supreme Court could somehow make it worse for your cause?”
Gonadakis: “Based on every national legal expert we have spoken to and worked with from the beginning, that is a valid concern.”
But backers of the Heartbeat Bill insist their plan is legal.
Kelly Copeland with the National Abortion Rights Action League of Ohio says this new group is more of the same in her mind.
“They all want to take away a womanâ€™s ability to make personal private decisions by outlawing abortions. They can change their names, they can come up with a new one, but it doesnâ€™t change the fact that they are out of touch with Ohioâ€™s value and priorities,” Copeland says.
Copeland says this fight over abortion is not what Ohioans want.
“They are clamoring for jobs. They are saying to politicians they elected last November, ‘You said you would fix the economy. Letâ€™s get busy.’ They are not wanting them to spend all of their time on this war on women that they launched back in January.”
But the new anti abortion political action group says this is the right time to take up this fight. After all, they note, Republicans control all of state government. So this new group promises to turn up the heat on lawmakers to put the Heartbeat Bill up for a vote. The group will first begin airing a television spot in the Dayton area. And if politicians donâ€™t put the bill up for a vote, this group promises to campaign against them when they come up for a vote for re-election.