Over In A Heartbeat

Ohio’s Republican Senate President Tom Niehaus decided he wasn’t going out like a chump in his final days of the lame duck session and did the right thing:  he refused to bring up the nation’s most restrictive (and clearly unconstitutional) abortion bill up for a vote.

The leader of the Ohio Senate put a stop Tuesday to a bill that would have imposed the most stringent restriction on abortions in the nation.

The chamber doesn’t plan to vote on the so-called “heartbeat bill” before the end of the legislative session next month, Republican Senate President Tom Niehaus said, citing concerns the resulting law might have been found to be unconstitutional.

“I want to continue our focus on jobs and the economy,” Niehaus told reporters. “That’s what people are concerned about.”

The bill proposed banning abortions after the first fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy. It had fiercely divided Ohio’s anti-abortion community, while energizing abortion rights proponents who protested against it.

Backers hoped the stringent nature of the bill would provoke a legal challenge with the potential to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion up until viability, usually at 22 to 24 weeks.

Ohio Right to Life, the state’s largest and oldest anti-abortion group, and many state lawmakers expressed concern the limit would be unconstitutional — jeopardizing other abortion limits in Ohio and expanding access to legal abortions.

In other words, this was a bill so nuts that even Ohio Right to Life came out against it.  (The argument over those cranks actually getting what they supposedly want being a serious problem for them financially is another matter altogether.)  Sadly, in 2013 Republicans will still have a hefty majority in the upper chamber and Niehaus will be gone due to term limits.  Should these nutters take another crack at it after January (and that’s all but guaranteed), we’ll get to play this game all over again next year.

Where it goes from there is anyone’s guess.  All I know is there’s still a fight to be had and to be won.

20 replies
  1. 1
    aimai says:

    I hate these people. Anyone think that the case of that poor woman who died in Ireland because the fetus (supposedly) still had a heartbeat frightened them off from this particular bill?


  2. 2
    Someguy says:

    Enough of the praise for the white male crackers, already.

  3. 3
    J says:

    Let’s be clear, though: Ohio Right to Life didn’t oppose this bill because they opposed its result: they love the idea of banning all abortions after about six weeks. Ohio Right to Life opposed this bill because they concluded that, as a matter of pure tactics, having the legislature pass an obviously-unconstitutional bill wouldn’t be helpful to them. (The theory of the bill’s backers was that the law would be struck down in federal court; that they would seek review in the Supreme Court; and that the underpants gnomes would then suddenly cause Anthony Kennedy to change his mind about whether the Constitution protects a right of reproductive autonomy. Sane people thought that was unlikely to happen.)

  4. 4
    Joel says:

    @Someguy: Pretty poor attempt at satire, there.

  5. 5
    Schlemizel says:

    It might have been really bad timing too – they just murdered a woman in Ireland because of a “heartbeat” law.

    The bastards will be back with this POS after the heat dies down from that

  6. 6
    some guy says:

    there is already a Some Guy, and me, some guy, but now wee have Someguy?


  7. 7
    Kay says:


    It’s a real question, and it isn’t going away. Anti-abortion people are going to have to answer it. This bill, as written, is absolutely applicable in a miscarriage medical intervention scenario.

    They know it, too. There’s a whole section devoted to the elaborate procedure required before a pregnancy is terminated even if the termination is not “elective” in the sense that the pregnant woman never intended to abort as a choice. Women, all women, really need to apply the language in these laws without putting it within the frame of elective abortion, because it matters. Some women (well, people) may be able to dismiss “those who get abortions” as a group that doesn’t include them, but if they’re a member of a group called “women of child bearing age” they may well run right into anti-abortion legislation, whether they intended to or not.

    This is broadly applicable. If terminating a pregnancy after a heartbeat can be detected is unlawful, women who are in an emergency situation would be relying completely on the “life or permanent impairment of the mother” exception in this state law in every pregnancy situation, not just elective abortion.

  8. 8
    burnspbesq says:

    I must be really fucking ancient, because I’m old enough to remember a time when a Republican leader of a state legislature acting in the interests of the citizens of that state wasn’t newsworthy.

  9. 9
    greennotGreen says:

    Reproductive rights aren’t just for “women of child-bearing age.” My mother, my sister and I are all past menopause, but my niece isn’t, and I love her! Of course, because my family is financially secure, whatever laws the wingnuts pass won’t affect her – unless they also ban travel, or at least travel for incubators in use.

    Abortion restrictions have always been about the “other.” “Those kind of women” get pregnant – and they must be punished!

  10. 10
    geg6 says:


    Oh, no doubt about it. That’s exactly why this is getting tabled.

    For now.

  11. 11
    Kay says:

    They tabled the Planned Parenthood attacks, too. IMO they stuck this guy out front to end what are politically problematic bills, right now. He’s term-limited, so the crazies can’t go after him.

    One of the sponsors of the Heartbill Bill gives it away when he whines that surely he isn’t completely responsible for Mitt Romney losing Ohio. He’s famous for two things. The Heartbeat Bill and a Lake Erie water bill that would have 1. violated a treaty with Canada and, 2. destroyed Lake Erie. The Lake Erie bill was so egregiously, obviously corrupt and embarrassing for state Republicans that Voinovich testified against it, leading Kasich to quickly veto it and bury the whole mess.

  12. 12
    Buckeyevoter says:

    And there are people who think that the best government is that which is closest to the citizens. NOPE! That is where the craziest people are.

  13. 13
    Splitting Image says:

    I’m actually hopeful that 2014 will be the last stand for the “pro-life” wing of the Republican party.

    As I see it, the anti-abortion plank is possibly the one plank in the G.O.P.’s platform that is doing damage to them across all of the demographic groups that they are having problems with, and eliminating it is maybe the one single thing they could do that might alleviate their electoral problems in one swoop.

    Therefore, they will either try to throw out the “pro-life” loons and make a real attempt to maintain relevance or they won’t, in which case they will be locked into their decline for a decade or more.

    Politically, abortion isn’t just causing problems for the Republicans with women any more. Atheists are a growing segment of the electorate and the fact that the anti-abortion wing of the party is constantly citing the Bible is a huge problem for them. The fact that defunding Planned Parenthood disproportionately affects low-income women (particularly blacks and Hispanics) is part of the reason the Republicans are being slaughtered with those people. Atwater himself pretty much said that this is the entire point of the matter.

    Eventually the Republicans will have to reach the point where they realize that losing the Evangelical vote by supporting abortion will do them less damage than losing non-Christians and non-whites by opposing it. I think the Angry White Male has one more vote in him and that will take place in 2014. If the Republicans don’t win big in the off-year election, he’ll be put out to pasture.

  14. 14
    Amir Khalid says:

    @some guy:
    You could try re-nyming yourself The Famous & Original some guy — Accept No Imitators!.

  15. 15
    scav says:

    @Amir Khalid: While I saw the obvious and blinding lack of sum guy, sumguy and Sum Guy. And we call ouselves a nunerate and liberal full-service blog!

  16. 16
    Persia says:

    @aimai: I think it’s far more likely that the Obama win meant they wouldn’t get the Supreme Court they were dreaming of.

  17. 17
    danimal says:

    The GOP is royally screwed, and the smarter ones amongst them know it. They simply can’t walk away from the pro-life position, it accounts for a large percentage of their votes, their turnout operations and their appeal to non-rich white folk. But they can’t get a national majority with their current array of policies and constituents, and cutting the pro-life (anti-abortion) plank could help them build a new identity. So, they can continue to slowly bleed to death with the current cohort, or make a sharp cut that means an electoral disaster or two while they rebuild.

    If you think the Tea Party harmed the GOP with budgetary extremism, just wait until social conservatives (finally) realize they have been used for the past few decades with little to nothing to show for it.

    The crazy, it has only begun.

  18. 18
    Felonius Monk says:

    @some guy:

    there is already a Some Guy, and me, some guy, but now wee have Someguy?

    Is it now time for a new series: SomeOtherGuy, someotherguy, SomeotherGuy, etc. ad infinitum?

  19. 19
    Linda says:

    I sent an email to Kasich on this bill, and the Republican’s continued war on women. I got a response that said, we are keeping a close eye on this bill. Please contact your assembly rep and tell them your thoughts.

    Which I translated as: “my own crazy political party doesn’t realize this is a shit sandwich, and I don’t want to sign it or risk riling the crazies by vetoing it. Please get your rep to kill it for me, m’k?”

  20. 20
    Rekster says:

    The chamber doesn’t plan to vote on the so-called “heartbeat bill” before the end of the legislative session next month, Republican Senate President Tom Niehaus said, citing concerns the resulting law might have been found to be unconstitutional.

    Is Senator Niehaus sure he is a Republican? He is missing an opportunity to legislate abortion away and is passing on it. He surely can’t be a Republican!

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