‘Heart­beat Bill’ passes Se­nate, heads to House

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - By Mag­gie Prosser The Colum­bus Dis­patch

By a six-vote margin, the con­tro­ver­sial “Heart­beat Bill” passed the Ohio Se­nate on Wed­nes­day, mov­ing an­other step closer to be­com­ing law after sev­eral at­tempts in re­cent years fell short.

Se­nate Bill 23, which would pro­hibit abor­tions after a fe­tal heart­beat is de­tected, with ex­cep­tions for cases in which the mother’s life is at risk — was de­bated vo­cif­er­ously on the Se­nate floor be­fore pass­ing 19-13.

“As a state, we have a le­gal obli­ga­tion to pro­tect life,” the bill’s spon­sor, Sen. Kristina Roeg­ner, R-hud­son, said. “And the point at which our laws pro­vide that pro­tec­tion should be ob­jec­tive, they should be fair, and they should be en­force­able.”

Democrats at­tempted to add three amend­ments to the bill be­fore vot­ing: to al­low hos­pi­tals to give vic­tims of rape emer­gency con­tra­cep­tives to pre­vent un­wanted preg­nan­cies, to re­quire manda­tory health-in­sur­ance cov­er­age for ma­ter­nity ser­vices, and to in­clude ex­cep­tions for cases of rape, in­cest or for women with men­tal-health is­sues.

“(This bill) feels like, it looks like, it reads on pa­per like it’s a po­lit­i­cal in­tru­sion into an ex­tremely per­sonal de­ci­sion that a woman would make with her doc­tor,” said Sen. Nicki An­to­nio, D-lake­wood.

All three amend­ments were tabled, leav­ing the cur­rent ver­sion of the bill without ex­cep­tions for cases of rape or in­cest.

“How an in­fant is con­ceived does not make it any less hu­man,” Roeg­ner said.

But her view was not ac­cepted by some Repub­li­cans.

“I be­lieve, and con­tinue to be­lieve, that all abor­tion is wrong,” Sen. John Ek­lund, R-chardon, said. “It is wrong be­cause, in every case, the vic­tim is in­no­cent. But in cases of rape and in­cest there is more than one vic­tim.”

Ek­lund, along with three other Re­pub­li­can se­na­tors — Nathan Man­ning of North Ridgeville, Matt Dolan of Cha­grin Falls and Stephanie Kunze of Hilliard — voted against the bill.

A spokes­woman for Ohio Right to Life said the or­ga­ni­za­tion was “grate­ful to wit­ness the Ohio Se­nate take a prin­ci­pled stand and rec­og­nize that every baby with a beat­ing heart de­serves the right to live.”

The bill now moves to the House. Speaker Larry House­holder said hear­ings on the bill should be­gin next week, and a vote is ex­pected in the sec­ond week of April.

“While we con­tinue the fight to pre­vent the six-week abor­tion ban from be­com­ing law,” NARAL Pro-choice Ohio Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Kel­lie Copeland said, “it is im­por­tant for Ohioans to know that abor­tion clin­ics are still open in com­mu­ni­ties across our state.”

The Se­nate also passed Se­nate Res­o­lu­tion 41 by 32-0, urg­ing Congress to en­act the “Born-alive Abor­tion Sur­vivors Pro­tec­tion Act,” which sup­port­ers say would guar­an­tee ad­e­quate med­i­cal care is given to ba­bies born after sur­viv­ing an at­tempted abor­tion. Op­po­nents ques­tion the need for such a mea­sure be­cause of ex­ist­ing laws against killing liv­ing chil­dren.

The res­o­lu­tion was a source of con­tention in the Se­nate Health Com­mit­tee, pass­ing 9-3 Tues­day with dis­sent from Democrats. How­ever, on the Se­nate floor, Demo­cratic dis­sent dis­ap­peared.

“When a baby is born, a baby is born, and we should do ev­ery­thing we can,” An­to­nio said — a change from her orig­i­nal stance op­pos­ing the bill.

Ap­plause erupted in the cham­ber when the mea­sure won ap­proval.

[ERIC AL­BRECHT/DIS­PATCH]

At­ten­dees at an anti-abor­tion event this year in the State­house pray for un­born chil­dren. In the fore­ground were 373 pairs of baby shoes that were dis­played to demon­strate the num­ber of abor­tions in cen­tral Ohio each month.

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