Lost in the hubbub following Governor Kasich’s State of the State speech last week was a controversy that erupted in the Ohio House over the Republican push to ban abortion.
Dr. John Willke, the Cincinnati physician who founded the International Right to Life Federation, was invited to address the chamber from the Speaker’s dais in what critics claim amounted to lobbying for the controversial “Heartbeat Bill.” Earlier in the month, two fetuses were accompanied by their mothers to testify in favor of the bill, and God is expected to be called forward in the coming weeks.
A spokesman for Speaker Bill Batchelder told cincinnati.com that outraged Democrats were “making a mountain out of a molehill” and that Batchelder himself didn’t know beforehand that the founder of a pro-life group would perhaps be opposed to abortion.
Kelly Copeland, head of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, says it’s typical for visitors being recognized to “stand and wave,” not to be given four minutes to preach before the House on a controversial issue. When she asked why Willke was allowed to speak, she says she was told it was because he came from “out of town.”
“I came from Akron,” she says, “so I should have been allowed to speak too.”