The Ohio Senate will note vote on two bills that would have alternatively stripped Planned Parenthood clinics of state funding and imposed the strictest abortion restrictions in the nation, with the Speaker of the Senate saying he wanted to focus on jobs and the economy instead of the agenda of the “most pro-life legislature in my memory.”
On Tuesday State Speaker Tom Niehas, R-Ohio, told the Columbus Dispatch that the Senate’s legislative agenda for the rest of the year will not include those measures, shortly after news broke that the GOP-controlled legislature intended to push them through while stalling a comprehensive sex education bill.
According the newspaper, Niehas told his caucus those anti-choice measures would be up for a due to constitutional concerns, and asked that his Republican lawmakers “respect his decision as leader of the caucus.”
The so-called “heartbeat bill” would have prohibited abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Because a fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, opponents argue it is violates Roe v. Wade, which states abortions are permissible until a fetus reaches the point of viability.
Ohio Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, has not supported the bill over concerns that it could ultimately be a setback for the pro-life movement.
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Niehas acknowledged the measure to deny Planned Parenthood of $1.4 million in funding could be detrimental to some women, noting the clinics provide women with a number of vital services, including cancer screenings and contraception access.
“From my perspective, we have to look at the entirety of work done by Planned Parenthood,” he said. Some Republican lawmakers have argued the clinics primarily functions as an abortion provider, and therefore should not receive state funds.