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Activist Behind Ohio's 'Heartbeat Bill' Left Out Of Signing Ceremony

This photo taken June 5, 2012, outside the statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, shows a large balloon in support of the "Heartbeat Bill."
Ann Sanner
Associated Press
This photo taken June 5, 2012, outside the statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, shows a large balloon in support of the "Heartbeat Bill."

When Gov. Mike DeWine signed the controversial bill into law that bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, the woman who launched the first version in Ohio in 2011—and fought for it until it passed—wasn’t there.

Faith 2 Action’s Janet Folger Porter clamored for passage of the legislation known as the "Heartbeat Bill" for eight years, during which former Gov. John Kasich vetoed it twice. She was excited when lawmakers passed it a third time.

“Now, unlike the last eight years, we now have a pro-life governor," Folger Porter said.

So, it was noticeable when Folger Porter wasn’t at the bill’s signing ceremony. She’s publicly said she was disinvited. When asked why she wasn't invited, she pointed to a flyer her group had circulated among its supporters.

DeWine’s office declined to talk about the situation on tape but said Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis was invited. His group had refused to endorse the "Heartbeat Bill" legislation until late last year.

When Folger Porter was asked about the role of Ohio Right to Life’s late involvement in getting the bill passed, she gave a one-word reply.

“Insignificant," Folger Porter said.

In recent years, Folger Porter used tactics some lawmakers considered heavy-handed to get the bill passed, including sending lawmakers roses and teddy bears with beating hearts. She also held rallies at the Statehouse where a tall, three-story heart shaped balloon was tethered to the Statehouse lawn. She was also a spokesman for former Alabana U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore as he faced pedophilia allegations.

In an email, Folger Porter said she has no regrets.

"I'll take a strong bill over a photo-op any day," she said.

The front page of Faith2Action's website contains pictures of Folger Porter with some of the lawmakers who backed the bill. On that page, she said she would be taking her efforts to Michigan to fight for the "Heartbeat Bill" there.

"Which state would like to borrow our three story Heartbeat Bill balloon?" she asked.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.