Ohio Heartbeat Bill Dead (Again) for 2012


VIDEO: Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus Says No Heartbeat Bill

Republican Senate President Tom Niehaus tells reporters his chamber will not move on the Heartbeat Bill or Planned Parenthood funding legislation before the end of the year. Read more…

This article was amended at 9:17 pm Eastern on Tuesday, November 27th to correct several typos.

In horror movies, it usually takes multiple tries to officially take out the evil monster. So it goes in Ohio, it seems, as a bill to ban abortions at the point of detection of an embryonic or fetal heartbeat is finally and definitely shelved for 2012.

Current Speaker of the Senate Tom Niehaus announced today that two bills which had previously caused an uproar during the lame duck legislative session would not make it to the floor for a vote. The heartbeat ban, on which it was previously rumored a compromise had been reached among anti-choice factions, was one of the two bills on which a vote would not be held. Some anti-choice groups were concerned it could inadvertently reaffirm the ruling in Roe v. Wade,

The other bill, which would essentially defund Planned Parenthood in the state by reprioritizing funding, will also be taken off the table for now. Niehaus acknowledged the importance of the work that Planned Parenthood, a rarity among the ranks of the GOP: “I think you have to look at the entirety of the work that is done by Planned Parenthood, and I believe that they offer much needed services that are not available other places.  So I chose not to take up the bill in lame duck.”

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Niehaus told his caucus that neither bill would get a vote, citing constitutional concerns, and asked that his fellow legislators “respect his decision as leader of the caucus.” 

For opponents of the measures, the news is met with relief, but also wariness. Kellie Copeland, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, predicts that this isn’t the end of either proposal, but simply a time-out before they both come back in 2013. “I don’t think this is a threat defeated, it’s a threat delayed,” Copeland told RH Reality Check. “When these attacks come back in January —  and they will — they are going to be passed and end up on Governor Kasich’s desk. We call on Governor Kasich to tell the women and men of Ohio where he stands and ask him to veto any threats to women’s healthcare.”

Copeland has reason to be concerned. Although Niehaus appears to have developed a personal grudge against Porter and her heartbeat bill, a grudge that escalated into a war of open letters during the height of lobbying at the capital, the likely new senate leader Keith Faber has no such grudge and has already declared himself a supporter of the bill.

Like all good horror movies, it looks like we’ll have to wait to see what happens in the sequel.

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