Ohio House Passes Heartbeat Bill
Republican Ron Hood of Ashville in south central Ohio is one of the leading co-sponsors of the so-called Heartbeat Bill. After telling an emotional story about losing a son to stillbirth, Hood repeated on the House floor what's been said about the so-called Heartbeat Bill for years….
"We're attempting to get the courts to recognize life at heartbeat. Roe v. Wade doesn't even have to be overturned for the courts to recognize that there's life at heartbeat."
There are 50 sponsors of the bill - 49 Republicans and one Democrat - so it was pretty clear the bill was going to pass. But several Democrats spoke against it. Greta Johnson of Akron spoke directly to Hood's remark, noting the US Supreme Court determined the constitution protects a woman's right to choose abortion.
"Challenging the constitution through these means is turning your back on your oath - the oath you swore to, under God, to uphold."
Republican Ron Young of northeast Ohio then stood to answer Johnson.
"There's a judge that's supreme to any judge on the Supreme Court. And if you read the oath carefully, he's the one we swore an allegiance to."
That prompted this from Democrat Mike Curtin of Columbus, who drew on the repeated remarks about God and religion from Republicans when talking about women and families who have had to make the difficult decision to abort a pregnancy - often a wanted one.
"This legislation flatly states that government lives on a higher moral plane than they do. That their government is better, is more virtuous, is more morally superior to them."
But perhaps no comments were more emotional than those of Teresa Fedor of Toledo, who said she respected the views and personal stories of those supporting the bill.
"But you don't respect my reason, my rape, my abortion."
Fedor had said she didn't want that to make the news, since she said in an interview later she hadn't even told her mother about it. In that interview, she looked over her notes to explain what comments said during the debate that made her decide to go public - she had written down the words "judge" and "God", among others….
"We heard that there are no exceptions, expansion of rights of the unborn. Yeah, but no exceptions? I wrote down 'complete disregard to rape'. That's when I said I'm, in my mind, I'm standing up."
The Heartbeat Bill, which includes no exceptions for rape or incest, passed the House 55-40. Now it heads to the Senate, where Republican President Keith Faber said he's still waiting for a legal scholar to come forward and say the Heartbeat Bill is constitutional and would survive the expected lawsuit from abortion rights group and a Supreme Court challenge.
"I'm for the concepts behind the Heartbeat Bill - always have been. But I just don't think it's the right political or legal strategy. I think there is danger of unsettling and frankly, harming babies because of the consequences of that being overturned."
The bill passed the House in 2012, but then stalled in the Senate. It was reintroduced in the last General Assembly, and died in a floor vote during the lame duck session in December. But backers say this is the longest period they've ever had to convince Senators to support it, so they feel confident they can get it passed.