Last week, the Ohio legislature passed an extreme piece of anti-choice legislation known as the “Heartbeat Bill” that seeks to ban abortion from the moment a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy and even before some women know that they are pregnant.
The legislation was the brainchild of radical Religious Right activist Janet Porter, who has been relentlessly pushing state lawmakers to pass her bill since 2011, going so far as to mount her own unsuccessful bid for office this year in an effort to push it through.
Porter’s endless series of rallies, stunts and action alerts has not made her particularly popular among legislators and other activists in Ohio, as the Columbus Dispatch reported yesterday that everyone seems to pretty much hate her … but Porter doesn’t care because she knows that her efforts will be what ends abortion in America and finally gives God a reason to bless this nation again:
Detractors say the Heartbeat Bill passed in spite of Porter, not because of her.
“It didn’t have anything to do with Janet Porter and Faith2Action,” said John Fortney, press secretary to Faber and the Republican caucus. “In no way should she think that our members responded in any way based on her tactics. Zero.”
Faber and other Republicans “understand the political process, they understand a negative campaign,” Fortney said. But the picketing went too far. “When it gets personal, with your family — I think he felt that was more than offensive.”
The bill’s lead sponsor in the Senate, Christina Hagan of Alliance, is more tolerant. She doesn’t condone Porter’s tactics — “That’s not my style” — but believes the bill wouldn’t have made it to the floor without Porter. “The problem is that Janet has the same level of frustration that voters showed in this election cycle,” she said. “Everyone here is doing what they think is right; just with incredibly different ideas about how to navigate the process.”
Michael Gonidakis is president of Ohio Right to Life, for which Porter served as legislative director from 1988 to 1997, before moving to Florida, where she founded Faith2Action. When Porter returned to Ohio in 2011 and began to push for a Heartbeat Bill, it caused a rift in the pro-life movement. Ohio Right to Life opposed the bill, calling it patently unconstitutional. Leaders feared a court challenge to the bill could imperil the abortion restrictions that Ohio already had.
Gonidakis said Porter’s alienation of the Republican establishment hurts her cause. “Janet is her own worst enemy most of the time,” he said. He sees it as a waste of talent. “She might be one of the best public speakers I’ve ever seen,” he said. “She has an amazing gift for communication. Unfortunately she has used that gift for more negative than good.”
Sandy Theis, executive director of the liberal advocacy group ProgressOhio, is harsher. “Janet is one of the most divisive people I ever encountered in my 30 years observing the Ohio Statehouse,” she said. “Her scorched-earth approach and inconsistencies hurt her cause.”
Porter still doesn’t care.
“I don’t have to defend what we’ve done,” she said. “What happened Tuesday said it all.”