Ohio GOP May Be Reversing Its Course on Abortion

I was wrong: Apparently some Ohio Republicans did take November's election results to heart (pun intended). 

Citing Romney's loss, Ohio State Senate President Tom Niehaus has tabled a radical “heartbeat ban” on abortions, as well as a bill to defund Planned Parenthood.   

However, it wasn’t the will of the people that he had in mind. Rather, he was concerned about Obama’s eventual Supreme Court nominees leading to a potentially hostile environment in the courts for the blatantly unconstitutional measure. Backers of the legislation hoped that the radical bill would lead to a legal challenge that could overturn Roe v. Wade.

Niehaus was right in believing that a Romney presidency could well have ended a woman’s right to an abortion. Though Romney said he would not push a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe, it is likely he would have had the opportunity to completely change the ideological make-up of the Court if he had won. 

With the Court’s four conservative justices (Roberts, Scalia, Alito, and Thomas) clearly against abortion rights, and Justice Kennedy citing concerns that “some women tend to regret” their reproductive choices, the impending retirement of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg could have spelt lights out for a woman’s right to make her own reproductive decisions.

While we can be assured that the ideological make-up of the court will at least stay the same (Ginsberg, a liberal like Obama, is the only judge most commentators are confident will resign next term) that hasn’t stopped radical Republicans across the country from pushing forward more anti-choice legislation.

Michigan Republicans are still trying to pass an omnibus abortion bill, despite the fact that anti-choice legislators lost hard in November. And while Ohio Republicans were tabling radical, unconstitutional anti-abortion legislation, they also refused to act on comprehensive sex education reform that could have prevented unintended pregnancies.

But we can have hope. In his statement about tabling the two anti-abortion bills, Niehaus said this about Planned Parenthood: "I think you have to look at the entirety of the work that is done by Planned Parenthood, and I believe that they offer much needed services that are not available other places. So I chose not to take up the bill in lame duck." Perhaps Niehaus has national ambitions, because many prominent Republicans are calling for their party to take a more rational approach to abortion rights. (Or, like McCain, just begging colleagues to focus on other things.)

While some other PolicyMic pundits think the pro-life movement should remain the Republican party’s meal ticket/electoral base, exit polls from the November election clearly show that American voters don’t want exception-less bans on abortion.

Many expect that this isn’t the end of Ohio’s proposed heartbeat ban. But hopefully in the next legislative session, Ohio Republicans take their cue from Niehaus, and from November's election results.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Alison Tanner

Alison is a recent graduate of the University of California - Davis, where she studied political science and women's studies and served the student body as an ASUCD Senator. She is currently a legal assistant for the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project. Views expressed here are her own.

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