Abortion

A controversial abortion bill that failed in the last general assembly is back again. The heartbeat bill, the legislation that would ban abortion at the point a fetal heartbeat can be detected, has been re-introduced.

Janet Folger Porter, the head of a group that pushed the heartbeat bill last time around, had this to say to reporters at the Ohio Statehouse.

"Just suffice it to say, did you really think we were going to give up, really?" says Folger Porter.

Ed Fitzgerald (left) has had a difficult campaign for governor, and has fallen far behind incumbent John Kasich in the polls.
Emily McCord / WYSO

The Democrat challenging Governor John Kasich is taking his message on the road. As WYSO’s Emily McCord reports Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald was in Dayton Wednesday to talk about women’s issues and the state budget.

Governor Kasich signed the state budget late Sunday night, and within it, several laws that restrict abortion access. Emily McCord speaks to Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles about what the law says and what it could mean for Ohio women. Ingles reports that it's becoming more common for controversial issues to slip into state budgets to avoid public debate.

Ohio’s budget was a big victory for Ohio Right to Life as five bills it supported were attached to the state’s new two year fiscal plan. But NARAL Pro Choice Ohio says the fight isn’t over.

Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonadakis is pretty pleased now that Republican Governor John Kasich has signed a budget that includes five anti abortion amendments.

Karen Kasler, Ohio Public Radio

After months of discussion and debate and several days of lingering questions, the state has a new two-year, $62 billion budget. The signing came with just hours to go before the new fiscal year.

The budget includes a gradual income tax cut over three years for everyone, a 50 percent income tax cut for small businesses, an increase in the state sales tax along with an expansion to digital downloads and magazine subscriptions, and some property tax changes. Gov. John Kasich said he was pleased with it, though it didn’t include his proposed Medicaid expansion.

A Republican-dominated legislative panel has passed a slew of changes to Ohio's budget, including a last-minute abortion regulation requiring doctors to provide written notice to pregnant women of a detectable fetal heartbeat.

The six-member conference committee moved the spending bill along party lines Tuesday night. The 4-2 vote sends the finalized budget bill to the floors of both legislative chambers, which are likely to take action Thursday.

Lawmakers face a Sunday deadline to pass the almost $62 billion, two-year spending bill.

Some Ohio doctors and medical clinic managers say if the Ohio legislature passes some anti-abortion bills now under consideration, it’s very possible there will be a shortage of doctors and medical facilities to serve the needs of Ohio women. And they warn more Ohio women will die due to complications from pregnancies.

Women seeking an abortion in Ohio would have to wait longer to undergo the procedure and listen to their doctors describe all of the fetus' "relevant features" under a measure being considered by state lawmakers.

The Republican-led Legislature's most recent attempt at curbing abortions would also require doctors to tell women that the procedure increases the risk of breast cancer and may cause pain to the fetus.

The bill will be presented Wednesday at a House committee hearing.

The so-called "Heartbeat Bill" is dead in this session of the legislature, according to Republican Senate president Tom Niehaus. But its backers say they won't give up, and are still hoping for a last-minute maneuver to get it to the Senate floor before the end of the year. But one supporter of restrictions on abortion who's not getting involved is Gov. John Kasich.

"I let the legislature do its job, and then I respond.  I try not to wade into the legislature," says Kasich.  "I don't get in the middle of legislative activity."

Earlier this week, backers of what's known as the heartbeat abortion bill threatened to use a unusual tactic known as a discharge petition to bring the bill for a vote by the state senate - despite the wishes of it's president. Now the senate president is taking an unusual step of his own to make sure the bill does not come up for a vote by his members during the lame duck session.

Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus has used an unusual procedure to keep the heartbeat abortion bill tied up in a senate committee for the next 30 days so it can’t come onto the floor for a vote.

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