A protest that began as a Facebook event only meant to be shared between a few friends has grown into an organized march in dissent of the controversial “heartbeat bill,” or House Bill 258.
The bill would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy, with the exception of cases that would result in irreversible bodily harm or death to the mother, but no exceptions in cases of rape or incest.
The protest is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. on Wednesday at Genoa Park on West Broad Street in Columbus, where protestors will meet, rally and listen to guest speakers before marching to the Statehouse where they will express their concern with the bill.
“I was very angry when I heard about the heartbeat bill passing through the house and it kinda just jarred me,” Savonna Medley, the march organizer and a first-year in international relations at Columbus State Community College, said. “Six weeks is just not enough time. These are our bodies and it should be our choice.”
The march is taking place on the day the Ohio Senate is anticipated to vote on H.B. 258, after delaying its vote on the controversial bill last Thursday, according to Medley.
Representative Christina Hagan, Republican from Ohio’s 50th district and the lead sponsor for the Ohio heartbeat bill, said she began championing for the bill to extend constitutional rights to every person, regardless of age.
“We want to keep beating hearts beating in the state of Ohio and that includes our most vulnerable in the womb,” Hagan said.
Even in cases of rape or incest, there is still no excuse to seek an abortion after six weeks, Hagan said.
“The bill does permit a woman to seek those types of services prior to a fetal heartbeat being detected, so when you’re in a scenario like that, you know that immediately,” Hagan said. “There’s no reason to let that child come to fruition and grow and have the mother and the child growing together and bonding together if that’s not the will of the mother.
In 2016, Republican Gov. John Kasich vetoed a heartbeat bill and instead signed another bill that bans abortion after 20 weeks of gestation, except in cases that would result in irreversible bodily harm or death to the mother.
And Kasich has said he is prepared to veto the bill again if it passes through the senate.
During a meeting outside of the Statehouse, Kasich told reporters his opposition to the bill has not changed, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
If the bill does not reach Kasich’s desk until next year because of the waning political window, it will land on the desk of his Republican successor, current state attorney general Mike DeWine, who said he would support the legislation during a campaign debate, according to The New York Times.
“I will sign the bill,” DeWine said in the interview with The New York Times. “I believe that the essential function of government is to protect the most vulnerable members of society. That includes the unborn.”
Medley said the protest will feature several guest speakers, including a spokesperson from Socialist Alternative Columbus branch and Planned Parenthood. More than 300 people have confirmed they will be participating.