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Abortion law draws unexpected fire

Record-Courier Capital Bureau Published: July 7, 2013 4:00 AM

COLUMBUS -- The outcry from Planned Parenthood and like-minded advocates was expected following Gov. John Kasich's signing of the $62 billion state budget and the controversial abortion-related law changes contained therein.

In the days that followed, the groups have become even more vocal, saying that requiring a doctor to check for a fetal heartbeat and provide extra information to women seeking abortions is unnecessary, and blocking funding for Planned Parenthood will deprive women of needed health screenings.

Again, that was all to be expected, particularly given the abortion restrictions implemented at the last minute as amendments to a budget bill.

But Kasich and GOP lawmakers aren't just getting flack from the left side of the political aisle on the issue. Turns out some abortion opponents aren't happy about the heartbeat provisions, in particular.

"It won't legally protect a single life," said Janet Porter, president of Faith2Action and vocal proponent of last session's Heartbeat Bill, which would have banned abortions within weeks of conception, as soon as a fetal heartbeat was detected.

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Porter isn't necessarily opposed to ultrasound requirements, which may convince some women considering abortions not to go through with the procedure.

But she's adamant in her disgust of Republican lawmakers who say they're pro-life but who won't move on a more strict prohibition.

Last year, Porter and supporters vowed to campaign against "RINOs" -- that is, Republicans in Name Only -- who failed to move on the Heartbeat Bill. They toned down the rhetoric after receiving what they described as behind-the-scenes assurances of post-election action on the legislation, only to be let down again when the Republican Senate president blocked a floor vote late last year.

Porter is voicing similar plans now, saying her group will find election challengers for GOP members who don't support the Heartbeat Bill and will actively campaign against them.

"They ran not to regulate abortion," she said. "They ran with pro-life promises to end abortion. ... If they don't pass it this year, there will be some activity in the primaries to make some replacements."

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Not all abortion opponents are on the same page as Porter. Ohio Right to Life hailed the "historic passage" of the biennial budget and the abortion amendments it included.

"Low-income pregnant women will now receive greater care and their unborn child will have a much greater opportunity to be born healthy," Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said in a released statement. "It took great compassion and courage for our governor and pro-life legislature to stand up to the abortion industry that blatantly pressured them."

He added, "For all their bluster about equality among the genders, Democrats have a policy of inequality towards women. If you're a woman living outside the womb you're respected and cherished but if you're a woman living inside the womb not only do they threaten your life, they pretend you don't exist."

But Porter points to other states, notably Arkansas and North Dakota, that have already moved on heartbeat legislation. Kansas is considering comparable law changes.

Porter said she expects a new Heartbeat Bill to be introduced in the Ohio legislature soon.

"We're not going to believe empty promises any longer," Porter said. " ... I think that the Senate needs to act, and if they don't, we will."

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

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trawl Jul 19, 2013 11:06 PM

"president who thinks a baby that survives "

Thats a but of stupidity created by those who know you're fool enough to fall for it.

little_r_republican Jul 8, 2013 8:08 AM

A president who thinks a baby that survives an abortion should be left to die in a closet, a secretary of HHS who thinks some people live and some people die is a good policy...and an organizaton that performs abortions (big hugh business) using taxpayer money...

amt_ Jul 7, 2013 8:06 AM

If only Kermit Gosnell had worn pink sneakers like Wendy Davis
JUNE 30, 2013 AT 10:45 AM

Few news outlets made mention of Kermit Gosnell, the abortion doctor convicted of murders at his...
Imagine a parallel universe in which the media coverage of legislators' recent efforts to pass gun control omitted any reference to last year's slaughter of 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

To be sure, opinions vary on these laws and their effect. But it would still be absurd if everyone writing about these new proposals chose to ignore the incident that set them off, and instead treated them by default as a completely unprompted assault on Second Amendment rights.

Something like this happened last week in Texas. Legislators there offered a bill in response to another terrible tragedy - a bill that enjoys support from 62 percent of the state's voters. Wendy Davis, a Democratic state senator, received great praise for filibustering Senate Bill 5, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks and impose on abortion clinics the same health and safety requirements that exist for other ambulatory surgical facilities.

As of Friday, the pink sneakers Davis wore on Tuesday night while standing up for late-term abortion were mentioned in more than 90 newspaper articles and 15 television segments, according to the Lexis-Nexis database. Yet a far more relevant detail - the reason this law was ever considered - received just four mentions in the papers and two on FOX News.

That reason, of course, concerns the lack of regulation that enabled the notorious Philadelphia abortionist and now-convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell.

It wasn't easy to find coverage of Gosnell's recent trial, but it provided a textbook example of how under-regulated industries can spawn unscrupulous businesses that gravely harm consumers. It's the kind of regulatory story that left-leaning mainstream political journalists normally love - except that this one touches on abortion, that mysteriously sacred cow of American public life.

You may be aware of the unsanitary conditions within Gosnell's Philadelphia clinic and the horrific methods he used to "ensure demise" of babies already-born and wriggling. But the grand jury report also demonstrates how something as simple as rules requiring wider hallways - rules the abortion industry has fought tooth-and-nail - might have saved the life of Karnamaya Mongar, a Gosnell patient who died in 2009.

The grand jury noted that even after Gosnell's unqualified, unlicensed staff had (at his direction) given her a lethal overdose of local anesthetic, she might have still been saved but for the clinic's "cluttered," "narrow, twisted passageways" which "could not accommodate a stretcher" to get her out. Mongar still had a pulse when paramedics arrived, but they lost a critical 20 minutes just trying to get her out of the building.

The grand jury concluded that, had Gosnell's clinic been regulated like other "ambulatory surgical facilities" - say, your average plastic surgeon's office - then health inspectors "would have assured that the staff were all licensed, that the facility was clean and sanitary, that anesthesia protocols were followed, and that the building was properly equipped and could, at least, accommodate stretchers."

These are the kind of rules that Davis filibustered against. Even that doesn't necessarily make her wrong. But who could even start to make a fair judgment based on media coverage that left out all the key facts? Gosnell's connection to this story is one without which the rest cannot be understood.

Political journalists have very strong and lopsided views on abortion. The Washington Post was one of only four newspapers even to mention Gosnell in connection with the Texas law, yet its editorial board seemed unaware, responding to Davis' filibuster by complaining about new rules in Virginia (also inspired by Gosnell) that require five-foot-wide hallways in clinics.

Perhaps the Post's editorialists - and the rest of us - wouldn't be so ill-informed on these matters if more news outlets hadn't omitted such an important part of the story.