Republican State Lawmakers Split Over Anti-Abortion Strategy
By Blake Farmer and Jackie Fortier
The new anti-abortion tilt of the U.S. Supreme Court has inspired some states to further restrict the procedure during the first trimester of pregnancy and move to outlaw abortion entirely if Roe v. Wade ever falls. But the rush to regulate has exposed division among groups and lawmakers who consider themselves staunch abortion opponents.
On Thursday, Ohio became the latest state to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. For a long time, Ohio Right to Life supported a more gradual approach to restrict the procedure and deemed what's come to be called a "heartbeat bill" too radical — until this year. Restricting abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected basically bans the procedure after six weeks' gestation — before many women know they're pregnant.
"We see the Court as being much more favorable to pro-life legislation than it has been in a generation," spokeswoman Jamieson Gordon says. "So we figured this would be a good time to pursue the heartbeat bill as the next step in our incremental approach to end abortion-on-demand."
The Ohio law contains no exception for pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest; it does have an exception for the life of the mother.
Some say the rush to pass these bills is about lawmakers competing to get their particular state's law before the Supreme Court. The state that helps overturn Roe v. Wade would go down in history.
More than 250 bills restricting abortions have been filed in 41 states this year, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research and advocacy group.