Columbus -- Abortion opponents announced legislation Jan. 27 that would ban the procedure in Ohio 20 weeks into pregnancy.
Ohio Right To Life says the legislation would prohibit abortions at the point at which pre-born children can feel pain.
"It's our No. 1 priority in Ohio," said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life said of the coming legislation. "We're going to use all of our political capital to get this passed."
Four years ago, lawmakers passed and Gov. John Kasich signed legislation banning late-term abortions about 24 weeks after conception, in cases where tests determine an unborn child could survive outside the womb.
Gonidakis said that legislation has not been challenged since its enactment and is law in Ohio. The law change and others passed by the Republican-controlled legislature in recent years have resulted in a 62 percent decrease in late-term abortions and a 37-year low in the number of reported abortions, he said.
The new legislation would set restrict abortions 20 weeks after conception.
Gonidakis called the change a continuation of abortion opponents' common sense, incremental approach to seeking an end to the procedure.
More than a dozen other states have passed comparable bans that have withstood legal challenges, he said.
"We believe this is the next logical step," he said.
Ohio Right to Life Executive Director Stephanie Ranade Krider added in a released statement, "Our pain-capable legislation will alter the abortion debate in Ohio. Strategically, our legislation directly challenges Roe v. Wade. Together with their constituents, the Ohio legislature is responding to our babies' pain, extending empathy to the most vulnerable among us and saying 'enough is enough."
Women's health advocates quickly voiced opposition to the proposal.
"Sadly, some pregnancies don't go as planned, resulting in devastating complications," Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said in a released statement. "In those cases women should be able to consult with their doctors and make the best decision for their family. In 2011, Gov. Kasich enacted a law that forces women in these situations to leave Ohio to access the abortion care they need. Now he is poised to insert his political interference even earlier in a pregnancy."
Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) added, "It's unfortunate that some want to spend the time of the legislature trying to take away fundamental women's rights. We've got work to do creating jobs and making the state a better place for everyone, including Ohio's women."
Janet Porter, president of Faith2Action, the group that's been pushing for passage of legislation that would ban abortions within weeks of conception, said the law changes proposed by Ohio Right to Life are a step in the right direction but would be inadequate to protect the unborn.
"We're for any bill that protects anyone," she said. "This bill will protect some, and we're for that. But it would protect far less than the Heartbeat Bill would."
The Heartbeat Bill fell short of the votes needed for passage in the Ohio House in December. Porter said the legislation would be reintroduced in coming weeks, and she anticipated a different result this time around.
"It's time to end 42 years of abortion on demand ," she said. "We're not going to be complacent and comfortable with regulating abortion when we could actually save a stadium full of children a year, and that's what the Heartbeat Bill would do."
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.