COLUMBUS, Ohio (EWTN News)—A bill that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected drew hundreds of backers to a rally at the Ohio Statehouse on Sept. 20.

“People have seen bumper stickers saying ‘Abortion stops a beating heart,’” said Faith2Action president Folger Porter, The Washington Times reported. “What I want to tell you, though, is when the heartbeat bill becomes law, we’re going to reverse this: And it’s going to mean that ‘a beating heart stops abortion.’”

H.B. 125 says that no abortion can be performed if the unborn baby has a detectable heartbeat, except to prevent the death of the mother or irreversible impairment of a major bodily function. The legislation passed the House by a vote of 54-43. It must secure 17 votes to pass the 33-member Senate.

Joe Scheidler of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League said the bill could save 96% to 99% of babies scheduled for abortion. “The heart begins to beat as early as 18 days from conception and (can) be detected on present monitors as early as 6 weeks,” he said.

Scheidler spoke at the rally, as did pro-life blogger Jill Stanek, Concerned Women for America head Wendy Wright, Operation Rescue president Troy Newman, and other national and state pro-life leaders.

Pro-abortion-rights groups have denounced the bill, saying it would virtually eliminate access to legal abortion in Ohio. They are also critical of its lack of exceptions for victims of rape or incest or for cases of fetal abnormalities.

“We will be a constant reminder to legislators that Ohioans are in no mood for an anti-choice agenda to take over the statehouse,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.

Scheidler said that pro-life groups in at least 17 other states want to introduce similar bills and are watching the Ohio bill closely:“Many see the bill as certain to be challenged by pro-abortion groups, but believe the courts may rule in favor of a bill that has medical science backing the biological fact that the detection of a heartbeat testifies that a human being is alive.”