Christine Dhanagom

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Ohio ‘Heartbeat Bill’ gains support from presidential contenders

Christine Dhanagom

COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 3, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Ohio’s “Heartbeat Bill,” which would ban abortion from the moment of a detectable fetal heartbeat, is gaining support from U.S. presidential hopefuls as it advances through the State legislature.

A press release issued yesterday by the Ohio-based pro-life organization Faith2Action announced that Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Judge Roy Moore now join Governor Mike Huckabee as potential 2012 Presidential contenders who have come out in support of the measure.

Judge Roy Moore, former Chief Justice for the Alabama Supreme Court, clarified that he believes that life began at conception, rather than when the heart starts beating, but that he supports the legislation as “a great step.”

“I don’t think there’s a bill before the legislature with more support than the Heartbeat Bill,” said Janet Porter, president of Faith2Action.  “Leaders and organizations who back the Heartbeat Bill now represent more than ten million people who want a swift vote for its passage.”

Katelyn Evans, a grassroots coordinator working with Faith2Action for the bill’s passage, told LifeSiteNews that the recent support from presidential contenders draws attention to the national importance of the bill.

“This is something that’s more than just in Ohio. There are several other states that have copies of our bill and are in the process of drafting their own and passing the same type of legislation,” she said.

The Ohio bill passed the House Health Committee in March, and has not yet been scheduled for a full House vote.

A complete list of the bill’s supporters, which includes 500 pro-life leaders, political figures, and organizations, is available at heartbeatbill.com.

Not all local pro-life leaders have endorsed the bill, however. Michael Gonidakis, executive director of Ohio Right to Life, has publicly expressed concern that if passed, the law could prompt a court decision that would adversely impact pro-life laws already in effect in Ohio.

ACLU of Ohio issued a press release yesterday warning that the Hearbeat Bill, along with other pro-life bills currently pending in the Ohio legislature, would “face legal challenge” if passed.

The press release noted that the bill would ban abortions so early in pregnancy that it would effectively outlaw all abortions. According to embryologists, the heart begins to beat around 18-24 days after conception.

“These bills will drastically limit people’s constitutional right to make their own medical decisions,” said ACLU of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link . “The state will be tied up in court for years, expending scarce resources to defend unconstitutional laws.”

Pro-life supporters of the bill, however, believe that a legal battle would be decided in their favor.

According to Evans, the 2007 Supreme Court decision that upheld the partial birth abortion ban act, Gonzales v. Carhart, would play a crucial role in a pro-life victory should the legislation be challenged in court.

In Carhart, the Court accepted as a “finding of fact” from a lower court decision that an unborn child is a “living fetus” based on its detectable heartbeat. This language, said Evans, was a significant departure from previous language employed by the Court which had referred to the unborn as a “potential life.”

“That language went uncontested by both parties,” she said. “This bill will bring that language to light and really force the Supreme Court to review everything.”

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