Constitutional Law

Ohio Fetal Heartbeat Bill Divides Abortion Opponents


Abortion opponents are divided over a pending bill in Ohio that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

Ohio Right to Life and the state Catholic conference have refused to endorse the bill because of fears it could result in legal precedent reaffirming Roe v. Wade, the New York Times reports. Six county chapters of Ohio Right to Life have “angrily withdrawn” from the parent organization in a rift over its refusal to support the measure, the Times says.

One of the bill’s supporters is Dr. John Willke of Cincinnati, the former president of National Right to Life. Willke told the Times that he has changed his earlier stance, which supported less sweeping measures to restrict abortion.

“I was Mr. Incremental,” Willke said. “But after nearly 40 years of abortion on demand, it’s time to take a bold step forward.” He says the measure would outlaw 80 to 90 percent of abortions.

The bill’s supporters acknowledge that lower courts would likely strike down the law as unconstitutional, the story says. They are pinning their hopes on the U.S. Supreme Court and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the perceived swing voter.

Similar bills are being drafted in at least 10 other states.

Another measure that is dividing anti-abortion activists is a state constitutional amendment that declares a fertilized egg is a person. Mississippi voters rejected a so-called “personhood” amendment in November.

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