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No LeBron, age discrimination, genocide: Heartbeat Bill backers get creative

(March 19, 2019) — Though arguments on the controversial “Heartbeat Bill,” which would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, have been thoroughly aired and robustly debated numerous times in Ohio legislative hearings, proponents of the bill offered creative testimony Tuesday during the bill’s debut in the House Health Committee.

A few highlights included: ‒Sen. Kristina Roegner, the bill’s primary sponsor, said that in cases of rape or incest — which are not exemptions from the ban — abortion could be detrimental to victims.

“The abortion could actually be the best friend of a human trafficker or a rapist,” the Hudson Republican said. “The abortion sort of wipes away the bad act.

There is going to be less evidence that it happened. If the woman becomes pregnant… then you can ask if it’s because of rape or incest. … So, in many ways, the baby can actually protect the mother.”

Other proponents made similar arguments, including Jessica Warner, director of legislative affairs for Ohio Right to Life, and Rebecca Kiessling, who was conceived by rape.

“Rapists, child molesters and sex traffickers love abortion, which destroys the evidence and enables them to continue perpetuating,” Kiessling said.

‒Much discussion was devoted to defining a fetus’ viability. Rep. Dr. Beth Liston, D-Dublin — a pediatrician — questioned multiple witnesses on what medical measures define life. Though the bill cites the heartbeat as an indicator of viability outside the womb, Liston referenced instances in which a heart might beat, but a person is otherwise declared dead.

Rep. Janine Boyd, D-Cleveland Heights, also noted religious discrepancies on when life begins. Boyd, who said she represents the largest Jewish population in Ohio, said that in the Jewish faith, life begins at first breath. Therefore, she argued, the bill should include religious exemptions.

Faith2Action President Janet Porter said laws should not be based on religious belief. “I would imagine that you would suggest we struck down the homicide laws based on religious beliefs of some who don’t think homicide is a bad thing,” she said facetiously. However, she later cited one of the Bible’s Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not kill.”

‒Additionally, proponents compared abortion to smashing an egg, mass genocide and locking someone in a closet. One anti-abortion advocate asked legislators to consider the consequences if LeBron James had been aborted.

‒Mark Harrington, president of Created Equal, said abortion “is an issue of age discrimination.”