The Middletown Journal reported today:
Advocates for the “Heartbeat” bill have formed a new statewide group, Ohio ProLife Action, to urge Senate passage of the legislation to ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. They say it would be the nation’s toughest restriction on abortions.
The Wednesday development underscores the advocates’ break with Ohio Right to Life, for years a state leader in anti-abortion efforts. OHRTL doesn’t support the “Heartbeat” bill, House Bill 125, because the group’s leaders say it could backfire and lead to a U.S. Supreme Court decision reinforcing a woman’s right to an abortion….
Linda Theis, the president and a former president of OHRTL, rejected Ohio Right to Life’s caution on the issue.
“The (U.S.) Supreme Court never changes their mind unless they’re invited to,” said Theis.
The new group’s board of directors contains a treasure trove of state and national pro-life leaders, including Dr. John Willke, its Second VP.
Ohio ProLife Action’s press release boasted its coalition of leaders and groups have a proven track record in Ohio GOTV, having delivered “seven million ballot cards and voter guides in recent elections” between them. That’s in a state with eight million voters but only four million who actually do.
I spoke with two of OHPLA’s organizers, Heartbeat Bill crusader Janet Folger Porter and Paula Westwood, executive director of powerful Cincinnati Right to Life and also on OHPLA’s Executive Committee.
Both stated their group’s goal is not to supplant OHRTL, although 2/3 of OHTRL’s chapters support the Heartbeat Bill. OHPLA will not seek chapter defections.
Porter and Westwood both said OHPLA evolved due to missing direction and leadership and also to push the ball harder rather than tentatively. Five of Ohio ProLife Action’s board members supported a bill in 2005 to completely ban abortion in Ohio, for instance.
OHPLA plans to endorse candidates. Were I a self-proclaimed pro-life legislator in Ohio who doesn’t support the Heartbeat Bill, I would watch my back. Primaries are just around the corner.
The Heartbeat Bill was passed in the House in June but is now stuck in the Senate.
Republican Tom Niehaus, who is term-limited and therefore not concerned about being reelected, is currently keeping the bill from getting a hearing in committee, even though he says he is pro-life.
OHPLA’s strategy now is to target two Dayton area pro-life Republican senators, Peggy Lehner and Shannon Jones (pictured right, in order) with the following ad. Lehner is a past president of Ohio Right to Life.
Both have stated they would vote in favor of the Heartbeat Bill but are said to be working behind the scenes to undermine it.