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‘Heartbeat Bill’ passes Ohio House

By staff and wire reporters • Updated Nov 18, 2018 at 6:15 PM

COLUMBUS—The Ohio House of Representatives has passed House Bill 258, otherwise known as the “Heartbeat Bill.” If signed into law, the legislation would put in place some of the nation’s strongest protections for the unborn.

The Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio estimates that the legislation could save the lives of 17,000 unborn children in the state.

The legislation, sponsored by Reps. Christina Hagan (R-Marlboro Township) and Ron Hood (R-Ashville), generally prohibits someone from performing an abortion once the unborn child’s fetal heartbeat is detected. While specific times can vary, fetal heartbeats in children are usually detected around six weeks.

“I feel extremely optimistic about our ability to extend our protection to unborn children with beating hearts,” Hagan said. “We have a stronger than ever majority behind babies’ beating hearts.”

Exceptions exist in the bill to protect the life and safety of the mother and other emergency situations. Physicians who induce or perform an abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected would be subject to a fifth-degree felony.

“House Bill 258 is the vehicle that is needed to revisit Roe v. Wade,” Hood said. “The House passage of the bill is a critical step in that long-awaited process. I am confident that this bill will protect tens of thousands of innocent lives with detectable heartbeats if it becomes law.”

The bill also creates the Joint Legislative Committee on Adoption Promotion and Support, which will be dedicated to promoting adoption, as well as informing expecting mothers and families about available options for adoption.

Longtime abortion opponent Janet Folger made a hurried road trip last week, as she put it, "to guard Ohio children from Gov. Kasich."

In an email to supporters of her Faith2Action group, Folger recounted how she recruited an Ohio House member to the Statehouse to cast the 60th vote to approve a bill that would outlaw abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. If all 60 "yes" votes held, it would constitute the minimum needed to override an expected veto from Republican Gov. John Kasich.

The floor vote on the "Heartbeat Bill" was 58-35 on Thursday, but with the House in recess rather than adjournment, votes still could be cast. Rep. Glenn Holmes, D-McDonald, soon cast the 59th vote in favor. But Rep. Marilyn Slaby, R-Copley, had left without voting to accompany her husband Lynn, her successor in the House, to a meeting.

Folger tracked down Slaby on the road two hours from Columbus and arranged for the pair to meet at a Bob Evans in the Wooster area. Folger started driving north and then thought to call a friend in the area to pick up Slaby and begin driving her south to "save critical time." After the rendezvous, Slaby was ferried to the House chambers to cast the 60th vote to potentially make the bill veto-proof.

Citing a "pro-life majority on the (U.S.) Supreme Court," Folger concluded her email by asking supporters to call the office of Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, and "remind him all their excuses for delay are gone."

The controversial bill still must be considered by the Senate, even as Kasich signals a looming repeat of his 2016 veto of a Heartbeat Bill, which he calls unconstitutional.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Darrel Rowland of the Columbus Dispatch (TNS) contributed to this story.

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