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Heartbeat bill passes Ohio Senate, ready for expected House OK
By Maggie Prosser
(March 13, 2019) — By a six-vote margin, the controversial “Heartbeat Bill” passed the Ohio Senate on Wednesday, moving another step closer to becoming law after several attempts in recent years fell short.
Senate Bill 23, which would prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, with exceptions for cases in which the mother’s life is at risk — was debated vociferously on the Senate floor before passing 19-13.
“As a state, we have a legal obligation to protect life,” the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, said. “And the point at which our laws provide that protection should be objective, they should be fair, and they should be enforceable.”
Democrats attempted to add three amendments to the bill before voting: to allow hospitals to give victims of rape emergency contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies, to require mandatory health-insurance coverage for maternity services, and to include exceptions for cases of rape, incest or for women with mental-health issues.
″(This bill) feels like, it looks like, it reads on paper like it’s a political intrusion into an extremely personal decision that a woman would make with her doctor,” said Sen. Nicki Antonio, D-Lakewood.
All three amendments were tabled, leaving the current version of the bill without exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
“How an infant is conceived does not make it any less human,” Roegner said.
But her view was not accepted by some Republicans. “I believe, and continue to believe, that all abortion is wrong,” Sen. John Eklund, R-Chardon, said. “It is wrong because, in every case, the victim is innocent. But in cases of rape and incest there is more than one victim.”
Eklund, along with three other Republican senators — Nathan Manning of North Ridgeville, Matt Dolan of Chagrin Falls and Stephanie Kunze of Hilliard — voted against the bill.
A spokeswoman for Ohio Right to Life said the organization was “grateful to witness the Ohio Senate take a principled stand and recognize that every baby with a beating heart deserves the right to live.”
The bill now moves to the House. Speaker Larry Householder said hearings on the bill should begin next week, and a vote is expected in the second week of April.
“While we continue the fight to prevent the six-week abortion ban from becoming law,” NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said, “it is important for Ohioans to know that abortion clinics are still open in communities across our state.”
The Senate also passed Senate Resolution 41 by 32-0, urging Congress to enact the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” which supporters say would guarantee adequate medical care is given to babies born after surviving an attempted abortion. Opponents question the need for such a measure because of existing laws against killing living children.
The resolution was a source of contention in the Senate Health Committee, passing 9-3 Tuesday with dissent from Democrats. However, on the Senate floor, Democratic dissent disappeared.
“When a baby is born, a baby is born, and we should do everything we can,” Antonio said — a change from her original stance opposing the bill. Applause erupted in the chamber when the measure won approval.