COLUMBUS, Ohio, February 8, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Two unborn babies will ‘testify’ to their humanity in a live ultrasound before an Ohio House committee that is considering a bill that would ban abortion as soon as an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detected.
State Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R-75th district), chairman of the House Health Committee, has sponsored HR 125, “the Heartbeat Bill,” a measure which would in theory end up banning most surgical abortions.
An unborn child’s heartbeat is generally accepted as beating by 18-24 days after conception. The earliest first trimester abortions generally begin at 4 weeks into pregnancy (dated from the last menstrual period).
Pro-life supporters of the measure say the two unborn babies, including one at nine weeks gestation, would become the youngest human beings ever to testify before the Health Committee.
“For the first time in a committee hearing, legislators will be able to see and hear the beating heart of a baby in the womb – just like the ones the Heartbeat Bill will protect,” said Janet Porter, President of Faith2Action. Porter is the former Legislative Director of Ohio Right to Life, where she helped pass the nation’s first ban on partial birth abortion.
Ohio passed two partial birth abortion bans – the first ban, passed in 1995, was found unconstitutional by a federal appeals court in 1997. Another partial birth abortion ban passed by Ohio in 2000 later passed the federal court’s constitutional muster because it included a narrow health exemption and excluded D&E (Dilation and Evacuation) abortion procedures.
In a statement, Porter said the committee will be able to see the unborn child’s moving arms and legs via an ultrasound projector, which will also display in color the unborn child’s beating heart.
“When passed, the Heartbeat Bill will insure that once that heartbeat is detected, the baby is protected,” said Porter.
The measure has the endorsement of National Right to Life co-founder Dr. Jack Willke, who stated, “Ohio can see history repeat and lead the way.”
Pro-life advocates said that lawmakers in Georgia and Texas are studying the Ohio bill with the intention of introducing their own versions in their respective state legislatures.
Wachtmann’s “Heartbeat Bill” had 50 co-sponsors – half the Ohio House of Representatives – when he formally introduced the measure on February 24.
Thousands of heart-shaped balloons were sent to state lawmakers on Valentine’s Day as part of a pro-life grassroots campaign to raise awareness about the measure. Pro-life advocates had hoped at the time that they would be able to get the bill formally introduced in committee by February 14.
The bill does not have the support of Ohio Right to Life for tactical reasons and doubts over its overall chances for success. Michael Gonidakis, Ohio Right to Life’s current executive director, has explained to media outlets that their concern is that the bill would ultimately not survive a court challenge, and thus not end up saving unborn lives.
His organization is sponsoring other measures, including a late-term abortion ban that would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks gestation. Doctors would have to perform tests to determine if an unborn child would be viable outside the mother’s womb, and would be prohibited from aborting if that were the case.
Gonidakis has stated that the bill could end up immediately saving 700 unborn babies in Ohio every year if enacted.
Overall, late-term abortions represent the tip of the iceberg in the United States as far as the total number of abortions is concerned. The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research firm that was founded by Planned Parenthood, says that late-term abortions (past 21 weeks) represent 1.5 percent of the total number of U.S. abortions. Approximately 88 percent of unborn children aborted were killed by the 12th week of pregnancy. The vast majority of these early abortions (61.8 percent) were committed on unborn children less than eight weeks old.