COLUMBUS, June 29, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) –  Three pro-life bills passed in Ohio’s House of Representatives yesterday, including the historic and controversial “Heartbeat Bill,” which would ban all abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected – usually only a few weeks into a pregnancy.

The Heartbeat Bill passed 54-43. Its next stop is the state Senate, which is also controlled by Republicans.

“This is a historic vote,” said Janet Porter, the president of Ohio-based Faith2Action, which has been pushing for the legislation. “When passed, the heartbeat bill will be the most protective legislation in the nation.”

“For every battle weary pro-lifer who didn’t see how children were going to be protected in our lifetime, come see what God is doing in Ohio,” she said.

The bill has received significant support in the pro-life community, including from GOP presidential candidates Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Huckabee, as well as other top leaders including James Dobson and Abby Johnson.

However, it has also been opposed by some key pro-lifers, including Ohio Right to Life, for tactical reasons. Because the bill flies in the face of Roe v. Wade, a legal challenge against it would likely land before the U.S. Supreme Court, potentially providing an opportunity for the high court to reaffirm Roe.

And the law would almost certainly be challenged, a fact that was openly acknowledged by Republican House Speaker William Batchelder.

“We’re writing bills for courts,” he said, according to Reuters.

In addition to the Heartbeat Bill, the Ohio House also passed HB 78, a measure banning abortions after 20 weeks, similar to legislation passed in other state legislatures this year. 

HB 78 passed the House 64-32 and received the support of Ohio Right to Life. 

“We are trying to make sure that no child dies from a brutal and painful death through a late-term abortion, and that and no woman has to confront the trauma and medical problems they cause,” said Mike Gonidakis, Executive Director at Ohio Right to Life.

Gonidakis called the passage of HB 78 “a defining moment in Ohio history for the pro-life movement.” “Our late term abortion ban is part of a national strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade and today Ohio is one step closer to joining other states such as Indiana, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma who are currently saving these babies’ lives,” he said.

The Ohio House also passed a bill (HB 79) that would prohibit abortion coverage in health care plans that join state insurance exchanges mandated under the new federal health care law.