The so-called Heartbeat Bill, which would ban abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detectable, is getting renewed attention in the Ohio General Assembly. No amount of recycled rhetoric will change the fact that the measure is an assault on women’s reproductive rights, and should be dismissed as such.
The bill and its intent are flawed — and unconstitutional — to the core. A fetal heartbeat can sometimes emerge six weeks into a pregnancy, in many cases before a woman knows she is pregnant.
The passage of such an ill-conceived measure would extend the incremental restrictions of reproductive rights established in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision and subsequent rulings. Two years ago, the Republican-controlled Ohio House passed the Heartbeat Bill, but it died in the GOP-run Senate. The reintroduced bill has seen no legislative action in this session, but advocates are demanding its approval this election year.
Backers of the bill are conducting an aggressive postcard campaign to warn reluctant GOP lawmakers against blocking its passage again. The mailer, which is going to voters in dozens of Senate districts, accuses senators of hypocrisy over anti-abortion speeches they made on last month’s anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.
The Faith2Action anti-abortion group is pulling no punches with messages such as: “If you want us to trust you in the next election, do what you promised in the last one,” and “Bring the Heartbeat Bill to a vote, or you can forget about getting ours.” It would be a shame if lawmakers succumbed to such strong-arm scare tactics and bullying.
No matter how politically popular it might be among some Republicans, the Heartbeat Bill does not represent Ohioans’ will, as measured by polls. Any attempt by lawmakers to pass this overreaching bill, or to campaign for it to pacify anti-abortion extremists, should be rejected by voters.
Just as Faith2Action is committed to holding accountable those lawmakers who don’t support the Heartbeat Bill, voters also must hold accountable the elected officials who try to push through this reckless measure — by pushing them out of office.