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COLUMBUS, Ohio, December 13, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Ohio Governor John Kasich vetoed a bill this afternoon that would have protected children in the womb as soon as their heartbeat can be detected.

The “Heartbeat Bill” was added to legislation dealing with child-abuse reporting, and Kasich simply line-itemed the prolife measure out of it.

Kasich did sign the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which protects preborn children from about 20-weeks gestation.

In a statement, Kasich said he was working hard “to strengthen Ohio's protections for the sanctity of human life.”

Defending his decision to veto the Heartbeat Bill, Kasich said, “The State of Ohio will be the losing party in a lawsuit and, as the losing party, the State of Ohio will be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to cover the legal fees for the pro-choice activists’ lawyers.”

The Heartbeat Bill divided pro-lifers across Ohio because some thought it will lead to a possible Supreme Court re-affirmation of Roe v. Wade.  Ohio Right to Life president Mike Gonidakis told Kaiser Health News that he opposes the prolife Heartbeat Bill because, “We believe in an incremental approach to both the legislative side as well as the changing of hearts and minds.”

However, Cleveland Right to Life president Molly Smith told LifeSiteNews, “I am just sick about the governor's veto.  It is absolutely outrageous.”

She added that Governor Kasich “does not speak for the prolife people of Ohio.”

She also accused the state pro-life organization, Ohio Right to Life, of a “betrayal” of the pro-life movement.

Ohio Right to Life president Michael Gonidakis explained that the state and national prolife organizations want to incrementally “chip away” at legal abortion.  They fear a blanket abortion ban would not pass muster with the courts.

“The 20-week ban…challenges the current national abortion standard and properly moves the legal needle from viability to the baby’s ability to feel pain,” Gonidakis argued.

After vetoing the legislation, Kasich tweeted, “I appreciate the support of Ohio Right to Life,” and included a direct quote of Gonidakis.

Gonidakis wrote, “By endorsing the 20-week ban in lieu of the heartbeat approach, governor Kasich provided strong pro-life leadership to finally engage a winnable battle with the federal judiciary while saving countless babies at the same time.”

Gonidakis praised Kasich for his “unwavering support for the unborn and our pro-life mission…  Governor Kasich got it right by embracing the strategic incremental approach to ending abortion.”

The Heartbeat Bill has inspired identical bills in Indiana, Alabama, North Dakota, and Arkansas, but lower courts in North Dakota and Arkansas have found it unconstitutional, and the U.S. Supreme Court has so far refused to listen to any appeal.  The 20-week ban has weathered some local court challenges, and is in place in fifteen states.

In recent years, both the Greater Cincinnati Right to Life and the Cleveland Right to Life have disassociated from the National Right to Life Committee, over such issues as homosexual “marriage” and personhood amendments.

Before his veto, the architect of the Heartbeat Bill, Janet Porter of Faith2Action, called out Gov. Kasich publicly, to either sign the bill or stop proclaiming himself prolife.  “You remember what Gov. Kasich said in the presidential debate: 'If you save one life, it is as if you saved the world.' This is an opportunity for Gov. Kasich to save not just one life, but nearly 20,000 lives each year,” she wrote.

Porter told the Columbus Dispatch, “I can't imagine the governor would want to kill the Heartbeat Bill because he fears the courts might — that makes about as much sense as killing someone because they 'might die.'”