The woman who effectively authored the “heartbeat bill” is pressuring Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, to sign the bill and not worry about whether the courts will find the law constitutional.
On Dec. 6, both chambers of the Ohio legislature added the bill language to existing legislation on child welfare. It would prohibit abortion as soon as an unborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected.
Kasich, who has described himself as “pro-life,” has previously said he is concerned about potential litigation stemming from such a measure.
Faith 2 Action President Janet Porter says the provisions are pretty simple.
“If a heartbeat’s detected, the baby’s protected. That’s the bill. It’s got a life of the mother exception, but it basically says once you’ve got a detectable heartbeat, we’re going to recognize that heartbeat in the same we would recognize the heartbeat of any other human being,” said Porter.
The detection of a heartbeat varies from pregnancy to pregnancy, but most can be detected between 4 to 6 weeks after conception. Porter says that’s a definition of life that everyone just accepts once someone is out of the womb.
“We’re going to acknowledge it and we’re going to kick in legal protections at that point. It’s a universally recognized indicator of life. Why should we ignore it when it comes to the very young?” said Porter.
Porter is quick to clarify that she believes life begins before a heartbeat is detectable but she believes this legislation moves the law much closer to the moment of conception.
“We’re not trying to say heartbeat is when the life begins. We’re simply saying that’s an indicator we should recognize,” said Porter, noting many more unborn lives can be saved this way.
“If we can’t rescue them all out of the burning building just yet, let’s carry out as many children as we can,” said Porter.
Most abortion debates in recent years have centered around the point of viability. Some place that at the end of the second trimester. Pro-life activists often push for a ban after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Porter says heartbeat is a better marker.
“Even the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has said it’s ‘more consistent and certain than viability’ and that marker is heartbeat,” said Porter.
She also says heartbeat detection is a very critical indicator of whether the unborn child will survive.
“Science has shown us that if you’ve got a detectable heartbeat in an unborn child, there is a 97-98 percent likelihood that that child will survive to live birth,” said Porter.
Kasich has given no indication whether he will sign the bill. It will become law on Dec. 16 if he does nothing. Only vetoing it would stop the legislation.
“Why in the world would Gov. Kasich say, ‘I need to kill the bill because the court might kill the bill.’ That’s absurd. We just want the governor to do what he is elected to do: protect human life, fulfill the will of the people as expressed through their elected representatives,” said Porter.
She also points out Ohio wouldn’t need to spend a dime defending the law since Liberty Counsel Chairman Mathew Staver has promised to provide representation for free.
The Eighth Circuit did strike down a nearly identical bill out of North Dakota in recent years. However, Porter says a closer look suggests this law would have a fighting chance in court.
“The Eighth Circuit is bound by precedent. They’ve got to follow what the Supreme Court has already said in the past. But what the Eighth Circuit said is, ‘Hey, Supreme Court, take a look at this one.’ They asked the court to review it. The court said ‘no,'” said Porter.
She also says this law could serve a vital purpose even if it is struck down in court. Porter says Ohio led the way by passing the first ban on partial-birth abortions and lost at the Supreme Court but inspired a movement that saw 30 other states pursue the issue and eventually win at the high court.
“We are doing what the Bible says is exercising the persistent widow principle. You keep pounding on the door and God says that even an unjust judge will give us the justice we seek,” said Porter.
She urges all pro-life Americans to pray for Kasich to sign the bill. Porter also strongly encourages like-minded Americans, regardless of where they live, to call Kasich at 614-466-3555 and tell him to sign it.
“A veto would not only kill the most protective pro-life law in the nation, it would also kill the 20,000 babies with beating hearts every year that that bill would protect.”