COLUMBUS -- A lawmaker from northeast Stark County has reintroduced a controversial bill that would ban abortions within weeks of conception, six months after Gov. John Kasich vetoed comparable legislation passed by the Republican-controlled Ohio Legislature.
Rep. Christina Hagan (R-Alliance) said Wednesday that she isn't concerned about the politics that will play out on HB 258.
"I believe that children with beating hearts deserve protection in the state of Ohio, and we should work toward that effort regardless of what the political climate ever looks like," she said. "... You can't get distracted by variables you can't control."
She added, "Every chance we have to debate this, we have an opportunity to change hearts and minds on the issue."
Hagan's reintroduction this week marks the latest attempt by proponents to move the so-called Heartbeat Bill, which has been offered now in four consecutive sessions of the general assembly.
The first time, it passed the Ohio House but stalled in the Senate. The second time, the bill failed to gain the required support to move it any further.
The Ohio House moved the Heartbeat Bill again last session, and Republican senators added the language to unrelated legislation during one of their final voting sessions of the year.
But Kasich used his line-item veto authority to strike the Heartbeat amendment, opting instead to sign a a 20-week abortion ban that was favored by Ohio Right to Life.
Opponents have said repeatedly that the Heartbeat Bill represents a further intrusion into women's health decisions, and some groups opposed to abortion are concerned that the legislation could lead to court decisions undoing other restrictions in current state law.
"Over the years, this unconstitutional abortion ban has been rejected by the Ohio Senate, the Ohio House, blocked by federal appeals courts, denied by the US Supreme Court, and most recently, vetoed by John Kasich," NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said in a released statement.
"When a woman needs access to abortion care, her biggest concern shouldn't be political maneuvering by the governor and state legislators. All she wants to know is that she can obtain an affordable, safe and legal procedure in her community. Shame on any politician who steps in her way."
But proponents believe the legislation could serve as the vehicle to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Comparable legislation has been introduced in Congress and in other states.
"Every time we have the discussion about the validity of the child in the womb, I believe we save lives," Hagan said. "As far as having the discussion on the House floor or in committee, I will have it at every opportunity and every turn of the way.
"I believe that these discussions encourage others to understand and extend that protection to the unborn, even if it's those in the Senate or the executive branch that haven't formerly supported the legislation."
House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) was among about 50 lawmakers signed on as co-sponsors of the new legislation.
"The bill's passed through the House chamber, I think, multiple times," he told reporters Wednesday. "We've got a lot of support ... I wouldn't be shocked to see it come to the floor again."
Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for GateHouse Media. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.