Ohio pastors representing more than 2,500 churches joined a growing chorus urging state legislators Thursday to override Republican Gov. John Kasich's veto of a bill Tuesday that would have banned abortions in the state once a fetal heartbeat is detectable.
And state legislators, according to The Columbus Dispatch, are now seriously considering the override despite serious obstacles.
"We represent no less than 2,500 churches in the state of Ohio, over tens of thousands of votes and people in this state who care deeply about this issue," J.C. Church, senior pastor of Victory in Truth Ministries near Bucyrus, said during a morning press conference at the Statehouse, according to The News Leader.
He then challenged members of the Ohio House to overturn Kasich's veto.
"... We would like to make a declaration and to challenge our legislators that we're going to stand with you. We're here, we're growing and we're not going anywhere. We're asking the Speaker of the House to call for a vote to override this decision that the governor has made, because we're here to promote and advocate for life," said Church.
Despite his personal belief in the sanctity of human life, Kasich in defending his veto of the bill argued that it would have been declared unconstitutional in federal court had it gone forward, resulting in a waste of public money.
"As governor I have worked hard to strengthen Ohio's protections for the sanctity of human life, and I have a deep respect for my fellow members of the pro-life community and their ongoing efforts in defense of unborn life. Certain provisions that were amended into Am. Sub. HB 493, however, are clearly contrary to the Supreme Court of the United States' current rulings on abortion," said Kasich.
"Similar legislation enacted in two other states has twice been declared unconstitutional by federal judges, and the Supreme Court declined to review those decisions. Because the federal courts are bound to follow the Supreme Court's rulings on abortion, the amendment to Am. Sub. HB 493 will be struck down," he added.
Kasich signed into law, however, a 20-week gestation limit for abortions which pro-life advocates praised.
That move did not console critics of the governor like evangelical leader James Dobson however, who sternly rebuked his veto of the heartbeat bill calling the move "cowardly and shameful." Dobson also called on local legislators to overturn the veto.
"It is clear that Gov. Kasich's pro-life convictions only run as deep as his political allegiances. He should be ashamed of himself, and I hope the good lawmakers of Ohio will send the Governor a clear message by taking this decisive action. I'm encouraging everyone who cares about the life of the unborn to immediately contact Cliff Rosenberger, and to request he call for a vote to override the Governor's veto," wrote Dobson.
Ohio House GOP spokesman Brad Miller told the Dispatch that while Speaker Cliff Rosenberger believes Kasich "made an important step forward" in approving a 20-week abortion ban, "some members believe the veto of the Heartbeat Bill took a step backward on this important issue."
"The speaker will be working with caucus members to determine possible options, and the outcome will be decided after further consideration," he said.