Ohio Republicans this week gave up on their so-called “heartbeat” bill, which would have banned abortions so early that many women might not realize they were pregnant by the time they needed to make a decision. You might think Ohio Republicans pulled their bill because voters sent a strong enough signal this month that restrictive social policies do not make for a winning agenda.
But that’s not why. The point of a bill like Ohio’s is to get sued over it. Backers want supporters of abortion rights to challenge the law in court, and the higher the court, the better. With President Obama now in charge of picking Supreme Court nominees for the next four years, Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus (R) decided he didn’t like his chances. From the AP:
Ohio anti-abortion activists were fiercely divided over the bill, with some fearing a court challenge could undo other abortion restrictions already in place.
“The risk became, do you send a bill to the U.S. Supreme Court that has the potential to undermine all of the good work that the right-to-life community has done over the previous decades?” Niehaus said. “Could it have undone Roe v. Wade? I don’t know the answer to that question. That appeared to me to be an extreme risk to take, and I was not willing to take that risk.”
If Mitt Romney had won, Niehaus says he might have let the measure go forward. Given that the bill’s supporters are true believers and not especially pragramatic, it sounds like they’ll try again next year.