What’s wrong with this picture? Pro-life groups join pro-abortion groups to oppose the Ohio Heartbeat Bill

For the first time I can think of, pro-lifers are divided into three camps on a pro-life bill. Usually it’s just two, which is bad enough.

I wrote on September 14 that both Ohio Right to Life and the Personhood people were actively opposing the Ohio Heartbeat Bill, which would ban abortion in Ohio from the time a baby’s heartbeat is detectable – at the age of  six weeks at the earliest.

Meanwhile, an impressive list of 500 pro-life leaders and pro-life groups – including many OHRTL affiliates – have come out in support of the bill, most notably Dr. James Dobson and Dr. Jack Willke.

Well, I just read a September 28 WOUB News article that is just ridiculous, disgusting even. What’s wrong with this picture? Excerpts:

The disagreement within the movement caused Right to Life’s founding father to resign from the Ohio board in protest because he said Mike Gonidakis, executive director of the state organization, would not back the heartbeat bill….

“I don’t know any other state where there’s such a division between the formal leadership and its troops,” said Dr. Jack Willke of Cincinnati, founder of National and Ohio Right to Life and current president of International Right to Life.

“His judgment is simply wrong,” Willke said, referring to Gonidakis.

But Gonidakis said it was a board decision to not back the bill because of the legal ramifications.

“Timing is everything,” Gonidakis said. “I don’t want to get set back 100 years because we pushed too hard to take down (Roe v. Wade).”…

Willke said most Ohio chapters are on board with the heartbeat bill, despite the state chapter’s position….

Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said the heartbeat bill is not the right approach.

“It does nothing to prevent unintended pregnancy,” Copeland said. “Why don’t we use things we know work, like sex education? Making abortion illegal will force women into bad situations.”

Gary Dougherty, state legislative director for Planned Parenthood, agrees that the bill would be detrimental to women.

“Rape victims are going to be ignored, victims of incest are going to be ignored, those who have health implications are going to be ignored … the effect will be felt the greatest by women in need of abortion care,” Dougherty said….

Dr. Patrick Johnston…  who is leading efforts in Ohio to put the personhood amendment on the ballot… refuses to support the heartbeat bill because he said it regulates the killing of fetuses and allows too many abortions: for rape, incest and health of the mother.

“By allowing innocent people to die, we are saying they don’t deserve liberty,” Johnston said. “ So many pro-lifers are OK with regulating abortion. Government shouldn’t deprive people of the right to life, liberty.”

A basic rule of thumb for pro-lifers: Don’t sit in the same foxhole as the pro-aborts.


30 thoughts on “What’s wrong with this picture? Pro-life groups join pro-abortion groups to oppose the Ohio Heartbeat Bill”

  1. Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/jills/public_html/wp/wp-content/plugins/subscribe-to-comments/subscribe-to-comments.php on line 590
    wps says:

    Sitting in the same foxhole as pro-aborts cannot be helped if the legislation is foolish. It is a measure that, while well intended, would only set back the movement to restore protection for all human life.


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    Keith says:

    It’s unfortunate, but we shouldn’t pretend that Heartbeat bill supporters (not Jill) don’t publicly oppose other strategies also.


  3. Hello Jill,

    The proponents of the Ohio Personhood Amendment aren’t actively opposing the Heartbeat Bill. I have written one article on it, and since then I give my opinion on it only when asked, and I’m asked quite a bit. (Great marketing!) However, I would endorse the bill enthusiastically if it does what you say it does. Reading your comments, I wonder if you have read it. Have you read it? Do you know that if a doctor does not document a heartbeat in the medical record, and does an abortion, it’s not even a crime? If a doctor does document a heartbeat in the medical record and does an abortion, it’s a fifth degree felony. It’s as if smart pro-abortion attorneys designed the bill to ensure that it wouldn’t threaten the abortion industry, and then had the pro-lifers market it for them. Why does the bill endorse a penalty for killing a person that is less than the penalty for shooting a deer out of season? Why does the bill treat the preborn as subhuman? Do you know that the bill permits abortions for maternal health? Should we ever endorse the intentional killing of one innocent person to improve another’s health? If I had kidnapped two kids, and told you that I would kill both unless you gave me the permission to kill one of them without being punished, and I’d let the other one go free – would you give me permission to kill one of them? I don’t think you would. This Heartbeat Bill permits the killing of innocent children. We may not be able to save all that we try to save, but should we grant permission for the killing of those we’re unable to save? To read my complete review of the bill, click http://www.newswithviews.com/Johnston/patrick130.htm.

    I am open-minded on the subject, and would be willing to change my mind if I can be shown to be in error, from reason or Scripture. From my investigation, I think that most supporters of the Heartbeat Bill support it because of what it’s marketed to be. Why don’t we just give them what it’s marketed to be, instead of marketing the counterfeit as an abortion ban when it’s not? Let’s give the pro-life majority a bill that’s one sentence, that stops the killing of all children statewide, that’s compatible with God’s law in that it permits no murder, that’s self-executing in the Ohio Constitution, and that is easily defensible with scientific fact. Why have we have four decades of legal child-killing and never put the issue up to a vote? The Ohio Personhood Amendment allows us to do just that.

    I admire you for your dedicated to “liberty and justice for all”, our disagreements on this notwithstanding. God’s richest blessins on you, Patrick Johnston


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    John Jakubczyk says:

    Jill, Thank you for writing about the Heartbeat Bill and the grassroots support it has, not only in Ohio, but throughout the country. It is tragic that the egos, the agendas and lack of communication among pro-lifers would hamper what could be the next major step in our efforts to provide complete protection for all unborn children. Please note that i said ALL unborn children, not just some, but all.  Yet any effort that can both educate and provide the courts wit the opportunity to examine the humanity of the child in the womb must e considered seriously.
    The purpose of the Heartbeat bill is to save lives. If the legislature voted to ban all abortions on children who can have their heartbeats detected, then it is a statement to all mothers that there is a baby in the womb during a time when most babies are aborted. If the mother has to see the ultrasound and be told that there is a heartbeat, the chances are greater that she will choose life for her baby.
    Of course the abortion industry will challenge the law. But they challenge everything. Simply because they challenge the law does not mean that we do not push the envelope. Otherwise the whole “reverse Roe” approach is a joke. But if we consider all approaches and push any legitimate effort that can save lives, we are the better for it.
    In the case of the Heartbeat bill, the educational value of the press talking about a bill that would protect the baby if a heartbeat is detected is an enormous advantage and a great teaching tool. “If the heartbeat is detected, the baby is protected.”  So far I have heard the secular press explaining this bill in ways that point to the humanity of the unborn child.
    So I do not understand guys like Mike opposing a well drafted bill that can advance the ultimate goal of protecting all innocent human life.
    I have yet to hear a cogent argument against the bill.
    I hope the legislature will have the guts to stand up for life.


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    Bruce says:

    Pro-aborts and “pro-life” people who contracept hold much in common.


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    Gregg Jackson says:

    I think it’s fairly straightforward stuff.
    The folks over at Planned Parenthood will oppose any baby killing regulations out of principle which is more than I can say for some self-styled “pro-life” groups. The “heartbeat bill,” if passed, would just be another administrative box to check off before ending the life of a living breathing pre-born baby.

    But PP opposes the heartbeat bill for totally different reasons than other pro-Personhood pro-lifers do. Trust me, PP will get around the many loopholes in the “heartbeat bill” (life and health of mother, rape, incest, differing technologies used to detect fetal heartbeats, etc…). One way or the other, they will find a way to close the deal and perform the “procedure.”
    Speaking for myself and I believe the vast majority of principled Pro-Personhood pro-lifers I know, the “heartbeat” abortion regulation bill is immoral, un-biblical and totally unconstitutional since the bill imperatively violates the God given (inalienable) right to life under the 5th and 14th amendments (due process and equal protection under the laws for all innocent persons)…and more importantly directly violates God’s Supremely Revealed Divine Law, “Thou Shall Not Murder.” (no exceptions). Pretty straightforward I think.
    The question, Ms. Stanek, is how you, as somebody who allegedly believes that human life begins at conception and that there is never a valid reason to kill any pre-born baby from the very beginning of physical development onward, can support a “law” that says it’s morally ok to kill the baby whom you have acknowledged has a God given right to his/her own life just because a baby killing “physician” can’t detect the babies “heartbeat” or if the baby is conceived as a result of rape or incest (you never intentionally kill a baby because of the sins of the father) or if the “health of the mother may be at risk” (you never intentionally kill the baby to save the mother)???????
    Why don’t you just put all your efforts and resources into ending ALL child murder via Personhood in Ohio and all across the nation?
    Gregg Jackson


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    Cal Zastrow says:

    Dear Jill,
    Holiness unto the Lord!
    Thanks for your efforts for the babies, and for your friendship.
    I’d like to respond to your final comment and describe the foxhole that the pro-aborts are in.   The pro-abortion foxhole:
    – denies the humanity of preborn children,
    – violates God’s commands to not murder, and to love your neighbor as yourself,
    – upholds unlawful (and wicked) court opinions instead of God’s Law and correct civil laws,
    – supports politicians who permit the dehumanization and murdering of some preborn children,
    – is hypocritical, not speaking up for the rights of all women, just the born ones, and some of the preborn  “wanted” ones,
    – trusts abortionists to tell the “truth” and do the right things.

    Nope. Not their foxhole.  Let’s stand and battle against all of the dehumanizing and murdering going on, trusting God while standing on the principle of the humanity of all preborn children.
    Cal Zastrow


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    Gregg Jackson says:

    The bottom line here is that we have no authority as Christians to pass any “laws” (no matter how well intended) contrary to God’s Supreme Law.

    As St. Thomas Aquinas said, “any law contrary to God’s law is no law at all.” 

    The “heartbeat bill” is contrary to God’s unambiguous commandment, “thou shall not murder” since the proposed new “law” would violate the imperative God given right to life for ALL innocent human persons (from conception to natural death) which is the Supreme Law of the Land.

    I sincerely believe that if pro-lifers would unite behind simple Personhood legislation which would ban all child murder and trust the Lord for the results, our efforts on behalf of all those created by God and made in His very image would bear much fruit.

    But I don’t believe the Lord will bless any efforts contrary to His Supreme Law…

    Planned Parenthood would oppose legislation that promised to kill 1 to save 99. Satan wants them all.

    But Christ left the 99 to save the 1.

    They are ALL precious in His eyes and we should treat them as such too.


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    Cranky Catholic says:

    The divide: pro-lifers who believe on their Day of Judgement God will ask, “How many did you save?” and pro-lifers who believe God will ask, “How faithful were you to My Laws?”

    One of these is the wiser.


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    Bryan says:

    What about legislation that prohibits post-viability abortions (like at 20 or so weeks)?  What about fetal pain bills that prohibit abortions once the fetus is deemed to be pain-conscious?  Those kinds of bills still allow some abortions.  And some of those have mother’s health or other exceptions.  Should we not pass any of those either?
    I totally understand that we ultimately want all abortion banned under all circumstances.  But I do not believe it should only be an all-or-nothing deal either.  I believe we should continue to hit the abortion industry from all sides in every way possible, and that includes chipping away at them piece-by-piece.  I do not understand the idea that we should not support this (or any other) bill because it does not go far enough.  If it saves one life, that should be enough to support it while we keep working on the remaining lives.
    Finally, as one great pro-lifer (Jill!) said “I don’t like those sorts of arguments that leave no room for God to move.”


  11. Particularly puzzling is Gonidakis’ remark that he doesn’t “want to get set back 100 years.”

    Really? In 1911, abortion was illegal …


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    DRF says:

    They don’t like it because it has an exception for women would suffer serious health problems?  Good Lord.  People who claim to be pro-life should oppose anti-abortion laws that don’t have health exceptions!  That’s why the anti-abortion movement is anti-woman, not pro-life.


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    Jill Stanek says:

    Gregg, all: This is such an old argument.

    For the gazillionth time, your premise is false. You act as if pro-aborts don’t already have free reign to kill all babies, from conception until after they’re born, as I witnessed. You act as if we are giving pro-aborts permission. But they already have it.

    So we’re trying to take back territory – save as many babies as we can when we can. You can go on now and waste time arguing in support of what I consider a ridiculous point – not saving any babies until all can be saved. I’m not participating. I held one of those babies you’d let go by the wayside on your quest for perfection. Abortion theory is easy. Abortion reality is disgusting, awful, and haunting.

    You can go on now and stand with NARAL and Planned Parenthood in opposition to the Heartbeat Bill.Go ahead and do that, Gregg.

    In the meantime I’m going to take my lead from the Underground Railroad folks, Corrie Ten Boom, and Oskar Schindler, and save who I can when I can.

    And Dr. Johnston, yes, I have read the bill. Here are talking points for you to consider: http://www.heartbeatbill.com/images/QandA.pdf


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    Ed says:


    It’s not about whether a law allows abortion, or doesn’t stop abortion.  It’s about whether the language in the law that pro-lifers are passing actually authorizes those remaining abortions.

    And when the law reads as this one does, which is to say, ”

    This law teaches society, and also teaches judges, that there is a “limited right to choose” and that there is NOT a “Right to Life” (or else there would be nothing to regulate).

    It’s true that society and judges hear these messages all the time from pro-aborts.

    What is tragic is that society and judges ALSO hear these messages from pro-lifers.

    What is disastrous, is many in society see the agreement from both sides that there is a “limited right to choose” (i.e. a right to choose abortion within certain “reasonable” limits), and think we’ve found a good common ground where most can agree, and it’s only the crazy rabble-rousers and extremists who talk about stuff like ending ALL abortions.  “Even most pro-lifers don’t argue for that,” they say.

    And most pro-lifers would be insulted by that characterization. “Of COURSE I believe there’s a Right to Life, and of COURSE I want to save all the babies.”  But that’s not what society hears, because that’s not what you’re saying when you support these compromised laws.

    I’m writing a book about this, hopefully out soon, which will explain this in much more detail.  I’ve found that just a few sound bites aren’t enough to get the anti-regulation concept across, but that if I have long enough to explain it, most pro-lifers end up agreeing that we should not support regulations and should instead support only Personhood.

    That’s the ONLY way society will learn to understand the Right to Life.  We have to start teaching it, not all this other distracting stuff.


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    Judy Climer says:

    I have a problem with anyone who says “it’s better to same some,” etc, because Jesus created ALL and died for ALL and went after the 1 sheep.  I talked to a Pastor friend who flew to Ohio for the rally from CA, and he was of the understanding that this bill eliminated all abortions because a baby’s heart starts beating at 18+ days.  When I told him the bill provides that the abortionist will determine if there is a heartbeat via ultrasound which any CPC will tell you is 6 weeks at the earliest, he was astounded. 

    To allow an abortionist to make the call is like the fox watching the hen house.

    The bill won’t save babies because most abortions are performed at 6 weeks; what abortionist do you know who will say “I hear a heartbeat?”  They use the most outdated equipment there is whereas CPCs are using 3 & 4D.

    For me, the bill says persons 6 weeks and younger are not worthy of the protection of our laws and have no personhood just because their little heartbeats cannot be heard on the outdated equipment in the abortion clinic.  I could not sleep at night if I put my approval to that bill.

    Personhood is the only way to end abortion and if so-called pro-lifers had put have the energy into a Personhood Amendment that they put into laws that legislate, restrict, limit, educate, etc. abortion, it would have ended years ago.  We’ve enacted all kinds of laws for 39 years, and abortion is still legal in America.

    I’m sick of hearing threats that it won’t stand a US Supreme Court challenge and it will set us back 100 years.  I’m ready to bring it on.  Jesus didn’t say I had to win; He said to follow Him – He will be our armor bearer.  It’s time to stop watering it down.  


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    Ed says:

    Sorry, I forgot to finish quoting from the bill:

    (E)(1) Except as provided in division (E)(2) or (3) of this section, no person shall knowingly perform an abortion on a pregnant woman with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of the unborn human individual

    (3) A person is not in violation of division (E)(1) of this section if that person has performed an examination for the presence of a fetal heartbeat in the fetus utilizing standard medical practice and that examination does not reveal a fetal heartbeat or the person has been informed by a physician who has performed the examination for fetal heartbeat that the examination did not reveal a fetal heartbeat.

    So, in the explicit language of this “pro-life” bill, it provides authorization for abortion (“no person may knowingly perform an abortion” “except as provided…”) if the doctor finds (or pretends) there is no heartbeat.


  17. Jill said,
    “In the meantime I’m going to take my lead from the Underground Railroad folks, Corrie Ten Boom, and Oskar Schindler, and save who I can when I can.”

    Thank you for responding, Jill. The Underground Railroad folks (many of them from worked right here in Ohio) did not consent or permit to the slavery of those they couldn’t rescue. By contrast, the Heartbeat Bill permits what you and I agree is the unconstituional and unlawful killing of innocent children. The Underground Railroad folks didn’t push for exempting certain accomplices in the kidnapping, raping, and killing of slaves; the Heartbeat Bill, on the other hand, exempts accomplices. The Underground Railroad folks didn’t give heed to the immoral and unconstitutional Supreme Court decision in 1857 that declared a runaway slave Dred Scott to be property and not a “person.” Rather, they defied this immoral law and whisked slaves away to Canada, where the law protected them. The Heartbeat Bill very specifically states that the Supreme Court trumps all (in subsections H, I, and J); the Heartbeeat Bill consents to the slaughter of children at the altar of judicial tyranny.

    Do you think that we condemn the Heartbeat Bill because it didn’t protect all children? If so, you are boxing a straw man. We condemn the Heartbeat Bill because it permits the killing of children it doesn’t protect. The Christian Underground Railroad folks would have stood against such an “anti-slavery bill” that permitted slavery, exempted some kidnappers, slave-floggers, and slave-murderers from prosecution, and that forced us to bow the knee to immoral and unconstitutional Supreme Court decisions at the expense of our allegiance to God’s law.


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    Bryan says:

    Judy – I think you are mistaken.  The best data I have found says that the average gestational age of an aborted baby is about 10 weeks, not 6.
    And by the way, I am not in any way saying we should not also be throwing the hail Mary pass for the immediate end to all abortions.  By all means we should.  But I still believe we should stop the ones we can when we can (thanks for those words, Jill).
    Finally, I will one more time say that I believe we should also put more trust in God to make these things work out.  When I hear all of this analytical talk of how the language may work against us, etc, etc, I think we, as humans, may be placing our trust in our reason rather than in our Lord.  How can it be wrong to try and save those lives that we can now while we also try for the outright ban of abortion?


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    Ed says:

    Why take guidance from the Bible at all if God is going to make everything work out?

    God WILL make things work out, in the end, but He expects our help in doing the right thing while we’re here.  Not just meaning to do the right thing — actually discerning what is the right thing.

    Bryan, did you read my post above about how this “pro-life” law specifically and explicitly authorizes abortions if there is no heartbeat?  Whether it’s 40% or 50% of babies whose lives are sacrificed by this bill, Roe v. Wade doesn’t need to be invoked to authorize those abortions — they’ll just reference this bill and say we agreed to them.


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    Judy Climer says:

    Bryan:  The stats in my state say “12 weeks or less.”  When you pray on the sidewalk and talk to Mothers, they share the gestation of their unborn child from the ultrasound, and many times it’s 6 to 8 weeks.

    Yes, more prayer is needed and trust in God, but remember we are His vessels, his hands, His feet and His voice to the misguided folk.  If we don’t stand up and start saying enough is enough, it will continue as it has.  I was shocked at Nat’l RTL and many of their affiliates who publicly opposed a Personhood Amendment – in my state, the newspaper quoted the leader of MI RTL as saying “Now is not the time.”  She said we needed to be focused on getting pro-life candidates elected.  You kidding me?


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    Amber Currie says:

    I understand that some people think that if we compromise, that we’ll never get abortion illegal…but I don’t believe that. I think the heartbeat bill and others like it are the first steps. And if we can save SOME lives along the way of saving ALL lives, then that is worth it!


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    John Jakubczyk says:

    Ed, I believe the section you reference concerns those situations where there is natural fetal demise. It would not be a violation of the statute to remove a demised child (miscarriage). In technical medical terms a miscarriage is a “spontaneous abortion” and therefore you need not perceive that the statute would be explicitly authorizing anything. The statute does forbid any abortion if there is a fetal heartbeat. It is not perfect in that it prohibits all abortions. That is a given. However it would prohibit 95% since most abortions are performed between 9 and 13 weeks.
    We know the law will be challenged – just as the partial birth abortion bill was challenged. The purpose of that law was to educate the country about the reality of late term abortions and to point out how extreme the abortion industry can be. The Heartbeat bill will also educate the country on the humanity of the unborn child. There is something instinctive in protecting a baby with a heartbeat.
    So we are clear. I support any effort that will advance the ball. Personhood is a great idea done right. I remember fighting for a Human Life Amendment and a Human life Bill back in 1981. People argued over which would be better, and it divided the movement then. I argued that we should run both of them and push the envelope. But I was young then and without much influence.
    I strongly encourage a big picture view of both this legislation and other efforts throughout the country. Considering the current work to remove funding from planned parenthood, the need to educate the voter in preparation for next year’s elections, and the outreach to students on the college campus, we have a lot of work to do. Now is not the time to be sniping at each other.


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    Ed Hanks says:

    John, I appreciate your sincerity, but you’re 100% wrong about two things.  I hope you are willing to listen, consider, and not just dismiss my points as argumentative and/or a misunderstanding.

    1) The part I quoted does NOT refer to fetal demise or miscarriage.  It does authorize surgical abortion of a living, developing child.  Simply read what I quoted: “no person shall knowingly perform an abortion on a pregnant woman with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of the unborn human individual ” — it is specifically referring to abortion “with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of the unborn human individual.”

    This CANNOT be read as fetal demise. The very language itself indicates it’s causing, not responding to, the termination of the life of the child.

    2) You may think the Heartbeat Bill “educates the public about the humanity of the unborn child”, but it does not. 

    What it does is educate the public that a baby is human if its heart is beating.  THAT’s life, THAT’s a baby… because it has a heartbeat.

    It also educates the public that the baby is NOT human — does NOT possess humanity — if its heart is not beating.  Otherwise, why wouldn’t you be trying to protect them, too? 

    This is the heart-rending unintended consequence of these compromise bills.

    Sadly, the “education” provided by these laws and proposed legislation is exactly the opposite of Personhood — they teach there is NOT a Right to Life, but rather there is a “limited right to choose to abort” (in this case the choice is limited to before a heartbeat can be detected by an honest doctor — but what doctor is “honest” if he’s willing to “terminate the life of an unborn human individual” in the first place?).


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    John Jakubczyk says:

    The section you are reading is the language that prohibits the abortion.
    “knowingly perform” and “specific intent” are legal terms to define the state of knowledge required. However the abortionist is required to test for a heartbeat. He cannot simply avoid doing so. If at 10 weeks, he detects a heartbeat, he cannot do an abortion. If at 8 weeks he detects a heartbeat, no abortion. Now there is language for medical emergencies and such, but these are intended for the rare events., The goal is to have the courts agree that the child is a human being worth protecting.
    AS for educating the public, let us first get them to think about it. Then we show them the baby in the womb with the heartbeat. Then the public learns more of fetal development. It is not (sad to say) an overnight process because the general public does not want to think about the subject.
    So we take baby steps.
    As for Personhood, keep plugging away. Keep educating. Keep pointing out the humanity of the child from the moment of conception. Keep reminding people that the 5th and 14th amendments both include the right to life. Don’t stop pointing out the errors of Roe v Wade. Mention the history of case law that recognized the child from conception prior to Roe. Prepare the soil so that everyone will support permanent legislation protecting all human life.
    Many people new to the movement should realize that the efforts to pass a Human life Amendment started in the early days. But unless you can win, the efforts do not save lives. As much as people may criticize the incremental approach, many of us have seen first hand the fruits of these laws. When we passed parental consent only to see it vetoed and passed it again and again, until finally it became law, it helped us on the streets to turn abortion minded women around. The same thing with informed consent and clinic regulation legislation. So if we can save children and help women with these regulations while we work toward the end goal, why is that a “bad” thing? Moral theologians have confirmed that such efforts are licit.
    In any event there is such a learning curve out there that the use of the law as a teacher will continue to grow in scope as we take back the ground that was lost 38 years ago.


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    Ed Hanks says:


    You are correct – that passage (E)(1) is where the bill prohibits surgical abortion “except as provided in (E)(3)”, and in those sections “provided” (i.e. authorized) includes (E)(3) where it says if the doctor does not find a heartbeat.  So the language DOES specifically authorize abortion if no heartbeat is found. 

    John, I appreciate your heart, your commitment and your sincere desire to do the right thing the best you possibly can.  We disagree as to what is possible.

    You say you used parental consent laws to educate the public over a period of years, and once they had been educated that far, you were able to pass those laws.  What if you had been pushing Personhood or an actual inalienable Right to Life instead?  Do you think it would have less educational result?  I think you might not have gotten to the point of passing Personhood right away — it might have taken longer than it took to convince the public about parental consent.  But I think you would have gotten further in convincing people of an actual Right to Life, and I have to wonder if we’d been teaching Personhood all along, might we have been able to prohibit all abortions in 1995 or 2005.  It’s hard to say — we never took that path. 

    It’s also not absolutely clear that it was those incremental laws that taught society.  Could it have been, instead, a growing, yawning realization from science — ultrasounds, better neo-natal education, better in-the-womb imagery, etc. — that the unborn child was a human being at any age, and not just a blob of tissue.  Is it possible society was learning Personhood from science and medical knowledge, instead of from the pro-life groups who were busy teaching a limited right to choose (get your mom’s permission first…)?

    John, I’m a professional political communicator, and I’ve learned alot about public opinion and messaging over the years.  I’ve become increasingly convinced that incrementalism works against our stated goals as pro-lifers, and in fact it works at cross-purposes to the Right to Life message of Personhood.

    Roe v. Wade set a roadmap for achieving Personhood.  Not only did it say, explicitly, that if Personhood were established for the unborn child then they would be protected under the 14th Amendment.  They also explained part of their rationale for ruling the State of Texas didn’t consider the unborn as Persons under existing law.  In Endnote 54, they wrote: “When Texas urges that a fetus is entitled to Fourteenth Amendment protection as a person, it faces a dilemma. Neither in Texas nor in any other State are all abortions prohibited. Despite broad proscription, an exception always exists. … If the fetus is a person who is not to be deprived of life without due process of law, and if the mother’s condition is the sole determinant, does not the Texas exception appear to be out of line with the Amendment’s command?”

    According to their reasoning, Ohio’s Heartbeat Bill would be yet another state law indicating an inalienable Right to Life protected by the 14th Amendment does not exist, but rather only a privilege to life granted by changing government policy. I really hope you pursue Personhood in Arizona, and not a Heartbeat Bill, as that would be yet another law.  National Right to Life points to 80+ laws passed last year by pro-lifers, every single one of them acknowledging a right to an abortion, within limits, and many of them specifically authorizing such a right in their text, as the Ohio law does. As these laws stack up, the Supreme Court will only be able to see exception after exception in state after state, all of them denying that any inalienable Right to Life exists. 

    I hope we will be able to agree on strategy soon, even if we don’t right now.  I’m glad you support Personhood as a goal, even if you have less faith in it than I do for short-term results.

    I hope you’ll read my book when it comes out.  It will explain all this and more in greater detail, such that I hope the conclusion will be obvious by the time a reader gets to the end.


    Ed Hanks


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    heather says:

    i live in ohio and i dont get why plifers would be against it. we have to start somewhere. at least we have safe haven in place.


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    john jakubczyk says:

    Let us be clear that we both want total and complete protection for the unborn child. We want laws that protect him or her form the moment of conception and throughout the entire 50 states and the protectorates. That is our intent. Until though we can change the complexion of the court or the mindset of so many federal judges, we have to do what we can to stop the killing. Sometimes that means passing informed consent, ultrasound, clinic regulations bills.
    In Arizona once Janet left to become DHS Secretary, we were able to re-file and pass 8 pro-life bills that she has vetoed. Of course Planned Parenthood sued, got injunctions to stop enforcement of the law. But what happened this August. A three court Appeals panel upheld the statutes and the following week PP was closing down 7 clinics. Babies will be saved because of these efforts.
    If the majority of people would support personhood, then go for it. But if you cannot win the entire field, seize as much ground as you can. Think of yourselves as hitting the beach. If you are pinned down, it may take a while until you can get to knocking out the battery. But you don’t give up. Same thing here.
    As for the educational value, it is a “two fer.” You want something that you can use to challenge Roe and at the same time educate the public. But winning (or at least coming in close) is important to the over all strategy.
    Simply because we pass a law that admits to the current legal mess, does not automatically imply or presume the child does not have a right to life. So laws that require clinic regulations do not automatically grant rights to the women or the doctor. They (presuming they are written correctly) only address the current inadequacy. Many of our statutes have triggers that state if Roe is reversed, complete protection under previous statutes would apply.
    I am happy to discuss this more but it might be easier if you called me.
    Bottom line is that we need to use all the means available to us to save as many children now while we build to the point of being able to apply the 5th and 14th amendments in the future.


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