COLUMBUS — A group of pastors urged members of the Ohio House Thursday to override Gov. John Kasich’s veto of legislation that would ban abortions within weeks of conception.
“We represent no less than 2,500 churches in the state of Ohio, over tens of thousands of votes and people in this state who care deeply about this issue,” said J.C. Church, senior pastor of Victory in Truth Ministries near Bucyrus, said during a morning press conference at the Statehouse. “… We would like to make a declaration and to challenge our legislators that we’re going to stand with you. We’re here, we’re growing and we’re not going anywhere.”
He added, “We’re asking the Speaker of the House to call for a vote to override this decision that the governor has made, because we’re here to promote and advocate for life.”
The pastors’ comments came two days after Kasich used his line-item veto authority to strike the Heartbeat Bill language from larger legislation dealing with the reporting of child abuse and neglect.
At the same time, he signed SB 127, which bans abortions within 20 weeks of conception, marking the time when an unborn child could feel pain. The state currently prohibits abortions after about 24 weeks, when a fetus could survive outside the womb.
SB 127 was supported by Ohio Right to Life and other abortion opponents, calling it an incremental step in ending the procedure that would withstand constitutional challenges. Those same groups did not support the Heartbeat Bill, however.
But other groups seeking a wider ban on abortions — and a law that could serve as the legal vehicle for overturning Roe vs. Wade, the court decision that legalized abortion — have been vocal in their criticism of Kasich for vetoing the Heartbeat Bill language. They’re calling on the Ohio House and Senate to override the veto and enact the law changes without the governor’s support.
The vote on the legislation that included the Heartbeat Bill amendment was 56-39 in the Ohio House, with a handful of Republicans voting against it. Backers of the bill would have to convince several of the latter to support the bill to reach the 60 votes needed to override. And they would have to do that before the end of the year.
Lawmakers have made no move to return to full session before the end of the current two-year general assembly.
“The Speaker believes the governor made an important step forward in protecting life by signing SB 127, a bill our caucus overwhelmingly supported,” Brad Miller, a spokesman for Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville), said in a released statement. “However, some members believe the veto of the Heartbeat Bill took a step backward on this important issue. The Speaker will be working with the caucus members to determine possible options, and the outcome will be decided after further consideration.”
State Rep. Christina Hagan (R-Alliance), the primary sponsor of the Heartbeat Bill, said in a statement earlier this week that was read during Thursday’s pastors press conference that she would continue to push for passage.
“Our passion for the unborn will not cease because of one man's action, we will continue the fight for babies to experience the milestones which every human deserves,” she said. “As my daughter took her first steps today, I thought how great it would be for every child with a beating heart to experience such joy. It is clear, albeit heart-wrenching today, that my work here has just begun and our fight as a movement continues.”
Pastors on Thursday said they would continue to work toward passage of the Heartbeat Bill, too, via a veto override or future legislation.
“The lives of 60 million aborted babies compel as we consider the weight of this bill and what it can accomplish and the lives that it can save,” said Tim Throckmorton, senior pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville. “Let me suggest that the millions of unborn whose lives are in the balance plead with us that we continue to stand for life, that we continue to stand together….”
Women’s health advocates, meanwhile, continued to slam the governor for signing the 20-week abortion bill into law. They planned to deliver 100,000-plus petition signatures to the governor’s office Thursday in protest.
“John Kasich has once again proved that he is no moderate — he is a radical right wing politician who wants to dictate to women what we can and can’t do with our bodies,” Karin Roland, chief campaigns officer at UltraViolet, one of the groups that spearheaded the petition effort, said in a released statement. “Criminalizing abortions after 20-weeks does not make women or our families safer or healthier. By signing this inhumane ban into law, one that does not even include an exception for cases of rape or incest, Gov. Kasich is supporting a radical anti-woman agenda designed to restrict a woman’s access to constitutionally-protected reproductive health services, and this is unacceptable.”
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.