Ohio senators stop forced vote on 'heartbeat' bill

JULIE CARR SMYTH AP Statehouse Correspondent Published:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A powerful Ohio Senate committee has shut down an effort by backers to force a vote on legislation that would impose the most stringent abortion restriction in the nation.

Supporters of the so-called "heartbeat bill" vowed to unblock it with a discharge petition but were outmaneuvered Thursday when the Senate rules committee re-referred the bill to the same committee. The bill must remain there for 30 days -- more time than remains in this legislative session.

The sudden move followed Senate President Tom Niehaus (NEE'-hows) removing two Republican members from the committee.

The bill proposed banning most abortions after the first detectable fetal heartbeat. Backers hoped such a restriction would spark a legal challenge that could lead to overturning the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion up until viability.

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