Meet The Woman Quietly Driving The Republicans' Push To Ban Abortions At 6 Weeks


A number of conservative Republicans on Capitol Hill have been posting on Twitter and Facebook the last few months about receiving a "Heartbeat Bill Hero" award. All of the men are co-sponsors of H.B. 490, the "heartbeat" bill aimed at banning abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before most women know they're pregnant. Behind these awards and the "heartbeat" bill itself is Janet Porter, the president of Faith2Action. Bustle has reached out to Faith2Action for comment.

In case you're not familiar, Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa introduced a bill to the House in January called the "Heartbeat Protection Act of 2017." The legislation would make it illegal "for a physician to knowingly perform an abortion: (1) without determining whether the fetus has a detectable heartbeat, (2) without informing the mother of the results, or (3) after determining that a fetus has a detectable heartbeat." A House Judiciary subcommittee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. ET.

But King did not craft the bill himself. News reports at the time of the bill's initial introduction in January credit Porter, who appears in photos with many of the congressmen receiving the "Heartbeat Bill Hero" award.

"What an honor to be presented with the Heartbeat Bill Hero award today. Thanks for stopping by Janet!" tweeted Rep. Rod Blum, an Iowa Republican, in early September. As recently as last week, Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Republican, posted, "I received the Heartbeat Hero award for cosponsoring the Heartbeat Bill. Protecting the unborn is important to me."

Porter may be the woman behind the "Heartbeat Bill Hero award," but she and her organization, Faith2Action, play a far bigger role in the anti-choice crusade. She helped draft the Ohio "heartbeat bill," The Guardian reported, and even had pregnant women get ultrasounds inside the state capital during the debate. Then when the debate was to move nationwide, she provided King with support.

Porter gave a press conference back in January when King introduced the bill. "This bill will protect every child whose heartbeat can be heard," Porter said. "The heartbeat bill is the first step to ‘make America safe again’ for every child whose heartbeat can be heard."

Now, she plans to give another press conference on Wednesday at about 1 p.m. — after the House Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, under the House Judiciary Committee, holds a hearing on the bill. Porter and Faith2Action released a statement on their website ahead of the hearing, calling the bill a "scientific solution" and claiming support by a large swath of Americans, including 55 percent of Democratic voters (a conservative Christian company did the poll).

Porter also quotes her written testimony to the subcommittee (she will not be speaking there Wednesday):

To deny the unborn child's heartbeat is to deny science. To ignore it is heartless. With a Republican House, Senate, White House, and new Supreme Court being ushered in, we can do more than regulate abortion, we can protect every child whose beating heart can be heard.

The scientific argument is far from clear — a pregnancy is not viable until 24 weeks, and the "heartbeat" isn't actually the beating of a fetus' formed heart, it's a motion on the thickened end of a yolk sack indicating the earliest sign of cardiac activity. But the political maneuvering is blatant. That was something that Rep. King made clear when he introduced the bill.

He directly connected it to the potentially changing makeup of the Supreme Court. Justice Neil Gorsuch maintained a 5-4 split against abortion rights, but one replacement of a liberal by an anti-abortion judge by President Trump could reverse that. "By the time we march this thing down to the supreme court, the faces on the bench will be different – we just don’t know how much different, but I’m optimistic," King said in January at a news conference.

Now, thanks to Porter and Faith2Action's work, this bill is being debated in Congress. So when you call to express your opposition to elected officials, also consider a call to Porter too, to explain why this legislation is wrong for American women.