The President of the Ohio Senate says a controversial abortion bill will not be brought before his members for a vote during the lame duck session. That news is drawing mixed reactions and as Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports, some abortion opponents who back that bill are not giving up the fight yet.
Opponents of abortion have been trying hard to get the Ohio Senate to vote for the heartbeat bill legislation that would outlaw abortion at the point a fetal heartbeat can be detected. There was hope that the Senate would pass it in the remaining weeks of the general assembly during the lame duck session. But Senate President Tom Niehaus says he’s not going to allow that bill to come up for a vote now.
Niehaus: “There were a lot of factors but I personally had some of the same constitutional concerns that I had a year and a half ago. And that’s as far as I want to go right now.”
Niehaus says the legislation could be brought up by the next general assembly. And that’s what concerns Kellie Copeland of Naral Ohio.
Copeland:“The Senate president has pledged that something won’t happen in the next couple of weeks but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be back with these attacks in January and that’s why Governor Kasich has to make a pledge to the women of Ohio that he will not stand for this ,that he will block any efforts to restrict access to women’s reproductive health care.”
But Janet Folger Porter, one of the key supporters of the heartbeat bill, is not ready to give up on it yet.
Folger Porter :“What the outgoing president has to say isn’t nearly as important as what the incoming president and the other 21 Republican Senators, all of whom ran on a pro-life platform by the way, what they can do about it. That’s what matters.”
Folger Porter wants 17 Republican state senators to sign what’s known as a discharge petition that would force the president of the senate to put the issue up for a floor vote. She says that tactic has been used successfully in the 1990’s.
Folger Porter: “We faced the same kind of objections back then, they said, ‘get it next year’. It’s too extreme. Not going to happen. Well we saw it happen and I know we can see it happen again.”
Folger Porter says she’s not at liberty to talk about senators who might be willing to sign the discharge petition. But the incoming Senate President, Keith Faber, a conservative Republican, isn’t going to sign it.
Faber: “I would not. I think discharge petitions are both bad form and something that has have consequences above and beyond that concept. I think there was a discussion had and considerations made and from that perspective, I think the caucus will support the president.”
But Folger Porter is working to make sure the caucus doesn’t support President Niehaus’s decision. She wants heartbeat bill supporters to barrage senators with phone calls, asking them to sign the discharge petitions. And Folger Porter says has a stern warning for Republican Senators who don’t sign it.
Folger Porter: “If they don’t care enough to sign that discharge petition, then I don’t care enough to ever help them again.”