COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — An Ohio anti-abortion stronghold took an unexpected turn in announcing its support for a Democratic bill it said will hold “deadbeat dads accountable.”
The Center for Christian Virtue, a conservative Christian lobbying group based in Columbus, praised an Ohio bill Friday that would allow pregnant people to claim at least $5,000 in damages from a sexual partner who causes them to have an unintended pregnancy, introduced by state Sen. Tina Maharath (D-Columbus).
“Senator Tina Maharath’s legislation is an innovative approach to combat the hook-up culture that has led to broken lives, hurting women, and abandoned children,” Center for Christian Virtue President Aaron Baer said in a statement. “It’s time we hold these deadbeat dads accountable.”
Under Senate Bill 262, pregnant Ohioans can file a civil suit no later than five years after conception against whoever caused them to have an unintended pregnancy – and anyone who “aids or abets” the impregnator – regardless of the circumstances.
A judge who finds by a preponderance of the evidence that pregnancy was indeed unintended must award the pregnant plaintiff at least $5,000, in addition to court costs and attorney’s fees.
“Too often, this cost is solely the mother’s to bear, especially in the case of an unintended pregnancy,” Maharath said in a news release. “However, the father shares equal responsibility for the pregnancy and it is only right that he pays equally for it.”
While Maharath’s legislative aide John Lytle said in an email that the Center for Christian Virtue’s support came “as somewhat of a surprise,” the Democratic senator welcomes the group’s support. Maharath plans to meet with organization leaders to discuss moving the bill forward in the statehouse, Lytle added.
Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to an abortion afforded by Roe v. Wade, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost successfully petitioned a judge to lift an injunction against Ohio’s 2019 heartbeat bill, effectively outlawing abortion once fetal cardiac activity is detected.
The Center for Christian Virtue’s praise of Maharath’s “pro-family, pro-marriage legislation” comes after the right-leaning public policy group celebrated the downfall of Roe v. Wade and targeted its support toward a number of controversial statehouse bills, including a proposal to bar LGBTQ+ youth from receiving gender-affirming care and a bill limiting instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity in Ohio schools.
Baer said the Center for Christian Virtue continues to evaluate how it can strengthen SB 262, even suggesting an increase to the monetary amounts for which a woman can sue over an unintended pregnancy.
“As we boldly step into Post-Roe America, restoring the dignity of human life requires that we restore a virtuous sexual ethic that leads men to stay with the women with whom they consensually engage in sexual activity, and provide for the children they create,” Baer said.
Other anti-abortion groups, however, weren’t as friendly toward SB 262 as the Center for Christian Virtue.
Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis ridiculed Maharath’s bill as a waste of time and taxpayer money that fails to present “actual solutions” to protecting women and children.
“As usual, pro-choice politicians only offer gimmicks and slapstick humor as solutions to women’s issues,” Gonidakis said. “This so-called legislation will not see the light of day and has a zero percent chance of even getting a committee vote.”
Pending in the Ohio Statehouse are two bills that would ban abortion outright, with no exceptions for rape or incest. While lawmakers are no longer in session, the Republican-dominated legislature could pass either bill as soon as their return in November.