Just as promised, a “compromise” may have been reached between Ohio’s anti-choice activist groups Ohio Right to Life and Faith2Action on the long blocked “heartbeat ban” that would make abortion illegal from the moment an embryonic heartbeat can be detected.
That compromise? Make it even more restrictive.
The “heartbeat ban” was always intended to be unconstitutional. The extreme group Faith2Action proposed it as a way to invoke a challenge to Roe v. Wade, allowing a possibility for the case to work its way through the court systems and end up in front of the Supreme Court. Ohio Right to Life, on the other hand, urged caution, worried that if the case made it all the way up the ladder, Roe would be reaffirmed rather than overturned.
Rumor has it that caution has been thrown out the window. Although previously anti-choice politicians showed reluctance to write a law so destined for a court challenge, now they have decided that rather than write a more constitutional bill, they will instead break it into pieces. Should the bill fail to overcome a legal challenge, the unconstitutional aspects of it can be dropped, and a defanged, more moderate set of pre-termination restrictions will remain instead.
With that sort of “get out of jail free” card attached, the bill’s backers have allegedly decided to go all out when it comes to unconstitutional abortion bans. According to speculation from multiple sources, rather than just banning abortion at the point of a heartbeat—which could be as much as 4 weeks post conception—they have chosen to write the bill so abortion is banned at conception itself. Should that be struck down by the courts, the ban would revert to the heartbeat as it was originally proposed. If the courts strike that down, then the law would default to a trigger law that would go into effect if Roe ever is overturned, banning abortion at any point and for any reason. Until that goes into effect, women would still be required to have a forced ultrasound prior to terminating a pregnancy, and be forced to listen to the embryonic heartbeat before having an abortion.
The actual bill hasn’t yet been introduced for Thursday’s senate session. Those who support abortion rights have noted that the anti-choice political groups have been playing it close to the vest, not wanting to unveil too soon a bill that most believe they have been working on quietly and out of sight while the bulk of attention has been on the 2012 election.
“We knew all along that the bill was still alive,” state Senator Nina Turner told RH Reality Check. “It’s crystal clear what they are doing. They have been working on this all this time and here it is. They are following through on everything they said they would.”
Senate Leader Tom Niehaus may have blocked the original “heartbeat ban” from coming out of committee prior to the election, but now that he is finishing his final days in the senate and the contentious 2012 elections are over, he’s ready to take the ban up: