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Ohio 'Heartbeat Bill' Is Revived In State Legislature

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Ohio state Senate President Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond). | AP

Just two days after a majority of Ohio voters indicated at the polls that they support abortion rights, the GOP-controlled Ohio state legislature announced plans to reconsider a controversial bill that would ban all abortions after the fetal heartbeat is detected, without exceptions for rape, incest or life of the mother.

The so-called "heartbeat bill," which could prevent a woman from having an abortion before she even realizes she's pregnant, has been stalled in the Ohio state Senate since June 2011 largely because a major anti-abortion group refused to support it. Mike Gonidakis, executive director of Ohio Right to Life, told the Columbus Dispatch in March of 2011 that the bill was so extreme that it could backfire and prompt the Supreme Court to reaffirm Roe v. Wade.

But Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond) told The Cincinnati Enquirer on Thursday that the Senate plans to reconsider the heartbeat bill in a lame duck session that begins next week. Ohio Right to Life is working on a compromise with Faith2Action, the main anti-abortion group behind the bill, to develop a substitute bill they both can agree on.

Gonidakis told The Cincinnati Enquirer that the bill is close to being ready for Senate consideration, but he would not elaborate on the details. “We’re going to keep the process close to the vest," he said. "We don’t want this to play out in the press. We’re still working on it, trading messages about the language. It’s not final yet.”

Ohio Right to Life also indicated in a post-election press release that it intends to continue pushing legislation to de-fund Planned Parenthood.

While several GOP-controlled state legislatures flipped back to a Democratic majority on Tuesday, Ohio's State Assembly remained firmly in Republican hands and gained a few anti-abortion allies. On Oct. 12th, Gov. John Kasich (R) appointed Ohio Right to Life board chair Marshall Pitchford to the committee in charge of choosing someone to fill a new vacancy on the Ohio Supreme Court, and he appointed Gonidakis to the Ohio State Medical Board.

Kellie Copeland, president of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, told HuffPost on Friday that Republican state legislators must not have been paying attention to women's votes on Tuesday. "They obviously didn't get the memo from the pro-choice majority in Ohio, which is, knock it off," she said. "Enough's enough. Get out of our bedrooms and our doctors' offices and get back to doing your jobs."

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