The pro-life movement won a significant victory in Ohio this week, where the state House passed a bill that would ban abortions on unborn babies after a heartbeat is detected in the womb.
State House Bill 258 passed in a 58-35 vote and now moves to the state Senate for consideration. Should the state Senate approve the bill, most abortions in Ohio would be effectively banned.
"The controversial legislation would ban most abortions in Ohio if it becomes law," reports LifeNews. "An unborn baby’s heart begins beating around six weeks, though new research suggests it may begin as early as 18 days after conception."
Abortion providers could also be charged with a felony for breaking the law by killing a baby with a detected heartbeat.
Gov. John Kasich vetoed a similar bill in 2016, fearing that a legal challenge would overturn it. Whether or not Kasich plans to veto this particular bill remains to be seen; however, proponents of the new law said it should not matter.
"The point is: it’s time. It doesn’t matter if the governor is with us or against us," said state Rep. Christina Hagan, a sponsor of the bill. "Motherhood isn’t easy but it’s necessary."
Other pro-life (largely female) lawmakers pushed similar arguments.
"(Abortion) is not a constitutional right," said Rep. Candice Keller (R-Middletown). "If you don’t know that, you need to read the Constitution."
"Today, let us stand up for the most innocent among us: the unborn," Rep. Kristina Roegner said.
Predictably, House Democrats objected to the bill, arguing that abortion providers will be unjustly penalized while calling for stronger exceptions in cases of rape or incest.
Heartbeat bills in favor of the unborn have been passed in both North Dakota and Arkansas but were later overturned by the courts. In the ruling, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said such laws violate Supreme Court precedent.
"Because there is no genuine dispute that (North Dakota’s law) generally prohibits abortions before viability — as the Supreme Court has defined that concept — and because we are bound by Supreme Court precedent holding that states may not prohibit pre-viability abortions, we must affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the plaintiffs," the court said.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the case in 2016, but that was when Justice Anthony Kennedy resided on the bench. Kennedy's replacement, Justice Kavanaugh, has not indicated if he would grant a hearing to such a case if the time came. One other case that could present a serious challenge to Roe v. Wade is a recent decision by the Alabama high court that affirmed the state's fetal homicide law.
According to The Washington Times, the Alabama fetal homicide law stemmed from a recent case in which a man was convicted of double-homicide for murdering his wife, Jessie Livell Phillips, when she was eight months pregnant. The jury cited the 2006 law defining a child in utero as a "person."
After being sentenced to death by the court, the convicted murderer appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court, alleging that unborn children do not have the same protections as those who are born. The court rejected his case, with Justice Tom Parker declaring it a "logical fallacy" for the government to declare homicide in the case of a man murdering a pregnant woman but not when a woman gets an abortion — particularly a late-term abortion, which can be done up to the moment a child is born.
While pro-lifers are torn on whether the Alabama law is the best course of action against Roe, they do acknowledge that fetal homicide laws reveal a serious case of cognitive dissonance.