In their pro-choice book Crow after Roe, Robin Marty and Jessica Mason Pieklo wrote about the Heartbeat Bill, which was proposed in Ohio. This measure, which was defeated, would have banned abortions from taking place after the baby’s heartbeat could be detected. Since a preborn baby’s heart starts beating in the third week after conception (the fifth week as pregnancy as it is usually measured) this would have banned most abortions. Had it passed, it most likely would’ve been a direct challenge to Roe vs. Wade.
Some pro-lifers delivered flowers to the offices of senators to encourage support of the bill. Members of another pro-life group brought their children to the Senate offices to present senators with teddy bears and a message to support the bill. The pro-lifers most likely felt that seeing innocent, living children delivering a pro-life message might make those who opposed the bill reconsider their position.
There was a pro-choice outcry. According to one senator:
I’m not at all supportive of the bill, and I’m not supportive of them sending kids in my office with a teddy bear that mimics a heartbeat, either. I thought that was a very cheap exploitation of kids.
Leaving aside the issue of whether it is appropriate for children to take part in political lobbying, it is very ironic that an abortion supporter would say that asking a child to carry a teddy bear into an office is exploitation but abortion itself, which rips apart a developing child, is not.
Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, had more “choice” words:
I think a lot of our folks looked at the flowers and other things as stunts. I think that was how it was received in a lot of the Senate offices as well. The one that got a little different reaction was when they had the children come and lobby and deliver the teddy bears. One of the Senate staffers told me that it kind of disturbed them because some of the kids were quite young. Their family walked them to the door of the Senate office, but didn’t go in with them. She told me that the kids that walked into her office looked pretty scared and intimidated. So I think that was received with a little more concern, how the kids may have been exploited.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio supports abortions all the way up until birth with no restrictions. They feel that a woman should be able to get an abortion at any time for any reason, even in the eighth or ninth month of pregnancy, and oppose any and all pro-life legislation. It is hard to understand how tearing apart a fully developed child in a dismemberment abortion (pictured below) is less exploitive than asking an older children to walk through the door of an office and hand a teddy bear to the person inside.
Meanwhile, the Heartbeat Bill has been reintroduced in Ohio. The bill would ban abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, when the heartbeat can be readily detected. It would impose a $2500 fine and up to 12 months of jail time for an abortionist breaking the law.
If it passes, it will have to survive court challenges because it directly contradicts Roe vs. Wade which specified that abortions could not be banned in the first trimester. (Roe legalized abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy, but allowed for some restrictions in the last two trimesters, as long as these restrictions make broad exceptions.)
Hopefully, prolifers will have more success with the Heartbeat Bill this time around.
Source: Robin Marty, Jessica Mason Pieklo Crow After Roe (Brooklyn, New York: ig Publishing, 2013) 43 – 44