Before the 2010 elections, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine caused a stir in his party when he commented that the party needed to focus on economic issues and move away from social “hot button” issues that had dominated the party’s dialogue, pumped up its base, but at the expense of the appealing to the middle.
Regardless of the social conservatives uproar in response to his comments, the reality is that the 2010 campaign largely played off DeWine’s viewpoint. None of the GOP’s statewide candidates, from Rob Portman to John Kasich and down the ticket, really made any overt references to a social conservative agenda virtually any of their campaign activities.
Kasich even promised to continue an executive order Governor Strickland signed that included sexual orientation and gender identity as classes of folks protected from discrimination in State employment. Although it turns out that Governor Kasich only continued the prohibition against discrimination against sexual orientation and not gender identity instead.
Seeing broad Republican majorities in the Ohio General Assembly and with Kasich as Governor, social conservatives are demanding that the Republican Party finally deliver for social conservatives. Remember that when Jon Husted was Speaker, he got a reputation as a social moderate for blocking from consideration a number of conservative culture war bills dealing with abortion and even same-sex adoption. Social conservatives believe they have no such barrier with Speaker Batchelder.
State Representative Lynn Watchmann (R-Napoleon) is a member of the Ohio Right to Life and has been awarded its “Defender of Life Award.”
For Valentine’s Day, Rep. Watchmann plans on introducing a bill that forbids the performance of an abortion once a fetal “heartbeat” is detectable by any means.
According to the Associated Press:
Ohio will be the staging ground for a new breed of abortion limit that would prohibit women from ending pregnancies at the first detectable fetal heartbeat, which can occur as early as 18 days after conception.
Republican state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann is preparing to unveil the "Heartbeat Bill" on Wednesday — just ahead of Valentine’s Day. It is the first proposal of its kind in the nation, with Texas, Georgia and Oklahoma among states watching closely.
Forty of 99 Ohio representatives have signed onto the bill.
I’d be tempted to dismiss this as just a wacky bill in the legislature that may not go anywhere, but given that it already has a near majority of the Ohio House signed up on it tells me they are deadly serious about passing this bill.
Such a bill is plainly unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade and its progeny, and I cannot believe any State Representative wouldn’t realize that. This is nothing more than pandering to social conservatives while shirking their oath to uphold the Ohio and U.S. Constitutions. That doesn’t mean it won’t pass. There is no doubt that such a bill would pass the Senate if it passed the House. I have zero trust that Governor Kasich would veto such a bill. Although he never talked about abortion directly in the campaign, his campaign did make sure to have on its website a section that displayed Kasich and Taylor’s credibility with Pro-Lifers.
This bill will likely pass, become law, and be declared unconstitutional by a federal court.
Doesn’t the State of Ohio have more important things to do than to give Rep. Watchmann another meaningless award from Ohio Right-to-Life for passing a totally unconstitutional bill?
For the past four years, organizations like NARAL Ohio have practically atrophied due to the lack of need to do anything while the Democrats controlled the Ohio House and Ted Strickland was Governor.
NARAL Ohio is in the midst of a membership drive to raise funds to fight these anti-choice bills in the Ohio General Assembly. If you’re so inclined, check it out and considering joining NARAL Ohio today!