Ohio Heartbeat Bill Really, Really, REALLY Not Coming Up for a Vote (Really!)


I’ve developed a sort of love/hate relationship with Ohio’s Heartbeat Ban, a bill that I have been tracking almost since the moment of conception (get it? I can make those jokes, too!). Thanks to the bill I have had a chance to get to know activists and providers with whom I likely never would have come into contact, interviewing them for articles here and on other sites, as well as for an upcoming book, where the saga of the bill’s constant maneuvering will be the second chapter. I’ve in some ways enjoyed the crazy antics of Janet Porter and her followers, from balloons to fetus “testimony” to teddy bears and preschoolers. And above all, I’ve enjoyed Speaker Tom Niehaus’s constant blocking of her every move in the senate.

But enough already. Just end it. Please.

Yes, Janet Porter and Faith2Action decided to take one more swing at getting the bill before the senate for a vote, even with Niehaus’s emphatic statement that he was not going to let that occur. Porter announced a plan to try and circumvent the Speaker altogether by gathering enough Republican signatures on a discharge petition in order to bounce it out of the senate Health committee and up for a full vote.

Surely, at this point she should have realized that this wasn’t just politics anymore—it had gotten personal. To ensure the bill remained sidelined for the rest of the lame duck session, Niehaus took the bill’s two biggest supporters out of the Senate Rules and References committee. Then, once that committee was mostly Heartbeat Ban supporter-free, he held a vote to have the bill moved from the Health committee to the Rules committee, where it will wither away until the session concludes, since a discharge petition cannot be used on a bill that has spent less than 30 days in committee.

“I made a decision this week to end Senate consideration of House Bill 125. Unfortunately, certain proponents of the bill continue to bully members of my caucus into bypassing the committee process and bringing it directly to the Senate floor for a vote. This move would effectively shut down all public input and hearing on a bill that has been changed multiple times without a single hearing on its newly proposed content,” Niehaus said in a statement released this morning, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

Niehaus also made sure to send a message to the anti-choice activists that their strong-arming tactics throughout the course of the bill’s journey were not appreciated. He told the Associated Press:

“It’s clear that this bill saw some of the most intense lobbying efforts in recent memory — and that’s fine: I’m all for people advocating for their position, and being passionate about their position,” he said. “But threatening, in my opinion, goes over the line. And we saw tactics that I did not appreciate, and my members did not appreciate. And for a small faction of the pro-life community to target the most pro-life group of senators in recent memory was to me outrageous.”

So, finished. Finally. There are no more last minute maneuvers that can be performed to get the bill up for a vote this year. Of course next year, we can probably expect it to be one of the first bill proposed. But on the bright side for me, my book will already be at the printer.

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