USA (MNN) — Last Tuesday, Ohio lawmakers passed the Heartbeat Bill, which says it would be illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion after an unborn child’s heartbeat is detectable. This is usually around the six-week pregnancy period.
Tom Lothamer with Life Matters Worldwide explains, “So anytime after that, if for instance a doctor did perform an abortion, if this did become law, then that doctor would be liable for punishment. It would be a felony up to one year in prison.”
The bill is currently waiting for Ohio Governor John Kasich’s signature. It’s a good sign for pro-life advocacy, but Lothamer says even if Gov. Kasich signs, it’ll take time to see if the law sticks.
“Some are saying that because it’s very similar to laws passed in South Dakota and Arkansas previously, which were struck down by the courts, there are some in both sides of the aisle who don’t believe this will pass constitutional muster. In other words, it would be struck down by the courts.”
Because of this question of the Heartbeat Bill’s longevity, some pro-life advocates are focusing more of their attention on a different and more-likely measure, Senate Bill 127, also awaiting Gov. Kasich’s signature.
“[This bill] that’s going to go before Governor Kasich in Ohio is a bill that’s been promoted by Ohio Right to Life, which is a ban on abortions after 20 weeks. Both are in the mill, if I can say. We would be for both of them, but in fact, we’re looking for the day that Roe vs Wade is history.”
Ohio law currently bans most abortions after 20 weeks, unless a doctor determines the unborn child isn’t viable outside the womb. But Senate Bill 127 would make all abortions after 20 weeks unlawful — whether or not the infant is viable.
Lothamer states, “The chances of the 20-week ban is more likely to pass the courts, where [the Heartbeat Bill], it’s questionable. But there are others on this side of the Heartbeat Bill saying now is the time to let it go through. In fact, if it does get to the Supreme Court, they’re feeling, and this may be possibly true, that a new court will say it passes muster and it can remain law.”
The Heartbeat Bill has drawn criticism for a particular aspect of its terms. “One of the parts of this Heartbeat Bill is that it does not allow for the exception of rape and incest. Some people, especially those who are pro-choice or pro-abortion, are very critical of that. It does allow for the exception of the life of the mother.”
Ultimately, says Lothamer, “What we’re saying is Christians ought to be favorable to any kind of bill that would limit abortions in this country, including the Heartbeat Bill or the 20-week ban.”
So how can we, as Christians, have these conversations about pro-life while maintaining a tone of compassion and sharing Christ’s love?
It starts with a holistic approach to the topic, and that’s what Life Matters Worldwide is all about — caring for the lives of everyone involved in these hard family and pregnancy situations.
“I think our biggest thing is to really step-up and ramp-up our ministry to women regardless, because even if Roe vs Wade somewhere down the road is declared unconstitutional or they reverse Roe vs Wade, it’s all going to revert to all the states (the question of abortion) and we’re still going to be dealing with this issue. The real bottom line is how do we protect life, but at the same time, protect the lives of women?”
Lothamer continues, “We say that the pro-life side is protecting women because, not only are we protecting the child, but we’re for women because of the complications of abortion medically, emotionally, [and] physically. So we’re saying, ‘Let’s minister to women — whether they have had an abortion or have not had an abortion — and let’s try to respect them and serve them and help them, along with the fact that we want to save children from the sin of abortion.”
What men and women facing difficult pregnancy or adoption decisions need is the hope and strength of Christ. And we as the Church have a chance to be that agent of our Heavenly Father’s hope and truth to those who are scared or dejected.
“Most women, even men, who are expecting a child and it’s more of a crisis for them or it’s unexpected and so-forth — they have a lot of uncertainties, sometimes they feel alone. They’re at a very vulnerable point in their lives.
“What we can do with pregnancy care ministries (and most of which do) is to say, ‘We’re going to come alongside you and we’re going to offer you hope — hope in the sense that we’re going to provide services to you, hope in the sense that we’re going to listen to you, and also most importantly we’re going to share with you about Christ who not only will assist you in this time, but most importantly with your whole spiritual life and for eternity.”
Lothamer says it’s a challenge to the Church as well. “To be pro-life is to care of the life of the child, but also to care for the lives of men and women and families who are facing these struggles and these crises. So we need to continue to offer services and help, and especially the local Church, to reach out to men and women who are struggling with this. And then also to women and men who have gone through the experience of abortion, to let them know there’s still hope and they can still receive forgiveness and actually come to a place in their life where they can be right with the Heavenly Father.”
Pray for the lives of mothers, fathers, and unborn children to be valued in our nation. Ask God to draw close to those walking through difficult pregnancy situations, that they would understand He loves them and their unborn child more than they’ll ever know.
If you yourself are facing a difficult pregnancy situation, Life Matters Worldwide would love to get you connected with resources and people who will walk this journey with you in Christ’s love and compassion and truth.
Visit their contact page here or call at 1-800-968-6086.