Continued from page 1

The chamber doesn’t plan to vote on the so-called heartbeat bill before the end of the legislative session next month, Republican Senate President Thomas E. Niehaus said, citing concerns the resulting law might have been found to be unconstitutional.

“I want to continue our focus on jobs and the economy,” Mr. Niehaus told reporters. “That’s what people are concerned about.”

The bill proposed banning abortions after the first fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy. It had fiercely divided Ohio’s pro-life community while energizing abortion rights proponents who protested against it.

Backers hoped the stringent nature of the bill would provoke a legal challenge with the potential to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion up until viability, usually at 22 to 24 weeks.

Ohio Right to Life, the state’s largest and oldest anti-abortion group, and many state lawmakers expressed concern the limit would be unconstitutional — jeopardizing other abortion limits in Ohio and expanding access to legal abortions.

The measure initially had stalled in both chambers as leaders sought legal advice as to whether the bill could withstand a court challenge. It passed the House in June 2011 and had remained pending in the Senate since.

Mr. Niehaus, who is leaving the Senate at the end of the year due to term limits, said a number of factors went into his decision not to bring the bill to a floor vote during the lame-duck session. He cited lingering constitutional concerns but would not elaborate on other issues he had with the measure.

MARYLAND

Kansas’ Dole hospitalized for routine procedure

Former Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda for what his spokesman called a routine procedure.

Dole spokeswoman Marion Watkins said the 89-year-old Mr. Dole is “doing very well” and is expected to leave the hospital Wednesday.

Mr. Dole’s name drew mention as the Senate on Tuesday debated a U.N. treaty promoting equal rights for the disabled. Mr. Dole overcame disabling war wounds to forge a 36-year political career. In the early 1990s, he underwent successful surgery for prostate cancer and in 2001 he had surgery to treat an aneurysm.

Mr. Dole spent 10 months at Walter Reed in 2010 after suffering pneumonia following knee surgery.

He was the Republican nominee for president in 1996, losing to Bill Clinton.

NEW JERSEY

Story Continues →