State leaders react to abortion ruling; Ohio’s 2019 ‘heartbeat’ ban in effect

Staff report

COLUMBUS — The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had provided a constitutional right to abortion. The ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states, although the timing of those laws taking effect varies.

The Ohio Legislature is controlled by Republicans who support restricting or banning abortions, and Republican Governor Mike DeWine backs those efforts. DeWine is up for reelection this year against the former mayor of Dayton, Nan Whaley, who supports abortion rights.

A ban on most abortions at the first detectable fetal heartbeat became the law in Ohio hours after the ruling. Enforcement of Ohio’s 2019 “heartbeat” ban had been on hold for nearly three years under a federal court injunction. The state attorney general, Republican Dave Yost, asked for that to be dissolved because of the high court’s ruling, and U.S. Judge Michael Barrett agreed hours later.

State leaders issued statements following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, splitting down party lines with reactions that either praise or speak against the decision.

Ohio State Senator Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) issued the following statement following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade:

“My strong Catholic faith, combined with 30 years as a practicing physician, drives my belief that every life should be valued. Since my election to the Ohio House in 2015, the Ohio General Assembly has passed more significant legislation to defend unborn children and protect their right to life than at any time since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark abortion ruling in 1973,” Huffman said.

Huffman went on to say that work will continue as his colleagues and he aim “to ensure we uphold the Constitution and protect the unborn.”

Huffman added that “being pro-life” is about more than overturning Roe V. Wade, saying, “As we review the opinion, and look ahead, we are mindful that being pro-life is about more than just protecting a baby’s right to live, it is also about providing support for pregnant women and parents, reducing financial barriers for adopting families, re-prioritizing federal funding for family planning organizations and providers—the list goes on.”

Ohio State Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) also issued the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court decision for the Dobbs v. Jackson case, saying, “Today’s decision is a historic victory in the fight to protect unborn babies across Ohio and our nation. The Court’s decision empowers states to defend the God-given rights of our unborn sons and daughters. Every unborn child has the right to life. Thousands upon thousands of innocent lives were tragically ended in the decades since the Court’s wrongful decision in Roe. These lives did not have to end. I am thankful the Court’s decision in Dobbs finally rights Roe’s historic wrong.”

Powell also discussed how she introduced legislation called the 2363 Act, which she and Thomas Hall (R-Madison Twp.) introduced in November 2021. The bill allows for any person to bring civil action against any person who performs or induces an abortion, “[k]nowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion for a woman who the person knows to be pregnant,” or “[h]as taken action or made statements that demonstrate to a reasonable person that the person intends to engage” in an abortion.

“I have introduced the ‘2363 Act,’ which offers protection to the 2,363 unborn children killed every day through abortion. I urge my fellow Ohioans and my colleagues in the Statehouse to support this urgent legislation,” Powell said. “The pro-life movement is strong today, and so is the Ohio House Pro-Life Caucus. We will analyze this decision and continue our commitment to defending the rights of the unborn here in our state. Work remains to be done with our state laws, and I remain willing and ready to collaborate with my colleagues on this issue in the coming weeks.”

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) spoke out against the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe V. Wade, calling it “radical” and saying this decision will cause a burden on women’s health care.

“For 50 years, women in America had the right to make their own personal health care decisions. Today, five judges handed that right over to politicians,” Brown said. “This will be the first generation of women to grow up with fewer rights and freedoms than their mothers and grandmothers, and this burden will be disproportionately carried by low-income women and women of color. This is a radical decision by an increasingly out-of-touch court, and Americans won’t stand for it. When, how, and whether to have a family is one of the most personal and meaningful decisions we make in life, and the freedom to make those decisions for yourself, free from political interference, should be available to everyone. The president and Congress must take action restoring protections for women to make their own health choices, and women will make their voices heard in voting booths around Ohio and the country this November.”

U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) also issued a statement celebrating the court’s decision, saying, “Today, we celebrate a historic, and long overdue, win for the right to life movement. After nearly 50 years, the Supreme Court has once again recognized that the Constitution does not establish or defend a right to an abortion.”

He went on to say, “Since I swore my oath of office, I have worked to protect the most fundamental freedom: the right to life. I am overjoyed to see this outcome from SCOTUS! We should rejoice in this victory for the unborn. However, this court case is not the end of our efforts to protect the right to life, but it finally empowers them. It is now on states, and elected officials across the country, to pass laws that protect the most innocent and vulnerable among us. Defending freedom always begins with defending life. I strongly support immediate implementation of Ohio’s Heartbeat Bill!”