The Radical Religious Right Activist Behind Ohio’s ‘Heartbeat Bill’

Yesterday, both houses of the Ohio legislature passed a so-called “heartbeat bill” that had been inserted at the last minute into a child abuse prevention measure. The bill would ban abortion, without exception, after a fetal heartbeat can be detected; that’s usually around six weeks into a pregnancy, which is before many women know that they are pregnant at all.

If signed by Gov. John Kasich, the bill would almost certainly face a constitutional challenge, but the president of the Ohio Senate said Republicans in the legislature decided to risk it because President-elect Donald Trump will soon be the one nominating Supreme Court justices.

This is a huge victory for Janet Porter, the extremist Religious Right activist who wrote the Ohio “heartbeat bill” and has for years led the charge for its passage, including memorably bringing a fetus to “testify” in favor of the bill in 2011.

While Porter has focused much of her energy in recent years on her “heartbeat bill,” she has had a long and varied career in Religious Right activism, including advocating for Seven Mountains dominionism (the idea that conservative Christians must take over all areas of government and society in order to prepare the way for Christ’s return), promoting bizarre conspiracy theories like birtherism, and, most recently, making a movie featuring several GOP politicians that warns that LGBT rights will lead to the criminalization of Christianity.

Porter, who runs a group called Faith2Action, used to host a radio show on the conservative radio network VCY America, which she used, along with online columns, to promote conspiracy theories such as birtherism, a chain-email-based allegation that President Obama was a Russian communist plant, and the claim that the Obama administration was preparing to round up conservatives and put them in internment camps. She also blamed Noah’s flood on gay marriage and predicted that President Obama would meet with Osama bin Laden.

VCY dropped Porter’s program in 2010 after she became increasingly involved in promoting dominion theology, including organizing a dominionist event on the National Mall. As we wrote at the time:

[Porter’s event was] organized around the “Seven Mountains” theology, which advocates the complete takeover of every aspect of contemporary culture by modern day “apostles” of Christ. The theology is rooted in the belief that Christians are meant to have dominion over literally everything and is focused on spiritually “invading” seven specific facets of modern life in order to wrest control away from Satan and his demonic spirits so that Christians can put them to use in bringing about God’s kingdom on Earth: (1) Business; (2) Government; (3) Media; (4) Arts and Entertainment; (5) Education; (6) Family; and (7) Religion.

Soon afterward, Porter reemerged in Ohio, where she began pushing for the “heartbeat bill” and continued to air various conspiracy theories, such as warning that the Obama administration might start using Obamacare to deny “lifesaving treatment” to conservatives and blaming a spate of tornadoes on legal abortion and “sexual sin.”

Porter has also been immersing herself in anti-LGBT activism, including producing a 2015 “documentary” called “Light Wins” that brought together members of Congress and extreme anti-gay activists to warn that LGBT rights would lead to severe oppression:

When she is not praying that God will give conservative Christians control over the government and the media, Porter has been busy warning that increasing acceptance of gay rights will turn Christians into criminals who will eventually be rounded up and tossed in jail. This culminated in an anti-gay film she recently produced called “Light Wins” that featured none other than Mike Huckabee, along with several  Republican members of Congress and anti-gay activists who warned that gay activists are “grooming” and endangering children, for which they should be held criminally liable.

Another person Porter chose to feature in her film was Theodore Shoebat, who has repeatedly called for gay people to be put to death.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision striking down same-sex marriage bans last year, Porter led a cadre of anti-LGBT activists to deliver “restraining orders” to the Supreme Court in an attempt to stop the justices from considering the issue, and managed to get Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Steve King to introduce bills stripping the federal courts of jurisdiction over marriage equality.

But through all this, Porter hasn’t forgotten her “heartbeat bill” passion, unsuccessfully running for the state legislature this year in order to advance her legislation and preparing a new movie, featuring King and Mike Huckabee, dramatizing her years of fighting for the bill.

Shortly after the election, Porter declared that Trump’s victory had given anti-choice activists a “green light” to end legal abortion. The Ohio legislature seems to have taken that message to heart.