Ohio lawmakers sponsoring a bill that could make nearly all abortions in the state illegal say their stance is based on science, not morals.
Last week, members of the Ohio House of Representatives unveiled a bill that aimed at prohibiting women from ending pregnancy after the first detectable fetal heartbeat.
In some cases, fetal heartbeat can be detected as soon as 18 days after conception, but almost always by six-weeks of gestation.
Those against the measure question the constitutionality of the bill and note that many women may not even know they are pregnant by the time the first heartbeat is detected.
Marietta resident Linda Sue Pifer, 70, said women should have the right to make choices for
"I do think a woman considering abortion ought to give it a lot of thought, because it could be a regrettable thing," she said. "But I certainly believe there are reasons to have abortions."
Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, is one of the 49 co-sponsors of the heartbeat bill. He said the bill is in committee and is yet to be scheduled to head to the floor for a vote.
"There will be questions about how this affects existing laws and constitutional conflicts, but based on how this is designed and how the legal minds have worked it, I think it stands a very good chance," Thompson said. "It is hard to object to the notion that a heartbeat doesn't represent life.
According to the Associated Press, nearly 95 percent of all abortions in the state take place after a fetal heartbeat was likely to be detected.
A mother to three children, Beth Zwick, 47, of Lower Salem, said she supports the bill.
"If there is a heartbeat, there's a life and it's not our right to stop that life," Zwick said. "It's that simple."
In a news release issued in response to the bill, Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said that using valuable committee time to advance these unwarranted attacks amounts to nothing more than a bait-and-switch on Ohio voters.
"Ohio's new legislative leadership campaigned on a promise of creating jobs and revitalizing the economy," Copeland said. "Instead, at the first available opportunity, these politicians are pushing an anti-choice agenda that is out of touch with Ohio's values and priorities. Ohio's anti-choice politicians who campaigned on less government intrusion in our lives are actually fine with government intrusion as long as it involves the personal, private decisions that take place between a woman and her doctor."
Copeland pointed out the current bill is just one of five bills in either the Ohio House or Senate that targets abortion rights.
"Sadly, none of these bills do anything to prevent unplanned pregnancies, decrease pregnancy complications or increase access to prenatal care," Copeland said in the release. "If legislators are truly concerned about women's health, we urge them to refocus their efforts on proposals that increase access to quality health care."
Thompson said the issue is about protecting innocent life, not access to health care.
"I think everyone is in favor to health care," Thompson said. "We're not saying we don't' care about women's health. We care about women and their (unborn children). This isn't mutually exclusive, but their real issue is that they don't embrace the vision we have for protecting human life."
The Associated Press contributed.