TIME Immigration

The Latin Grammy Awards Celebrates Obama’s Immigration Plan

A political moment turns into a cultural celebration on Spanish-language television

The 2014 Latin Grammy Awards were delayed by 17 minutes Thursday night so President Obama’s announcement on immigration could be carried live with Spanish translation on Univision.

But that wasn’t the only impact President Obama had on one of the most-watched Spanish-language broadcasts of the year. From the first minutes of the show, his decision to give legal status to nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants was celebrated as an affirmation of Latino power. Host Eugenio Derbez, a Mexican actor and comedian, started off the theme in his opening remarks. Here is a translation:

Good evening. Welcome to the Latin Grammys, an award that today celebrates 15 years of excellence in Latin music at an international level. What a way to start the night. On Univision we are celebrating that, little by little, millions of Latinos in this country are beginning to benefit. It was about time that the rights of Latinos were recognized, because it was long ago that we stopped being a minority. Latinos are an important part of what moves this country. What is more, Latinos are already part of this country, gentlemen. And what a better stage to celebrate this great news than this one of the Latin Grammys, because if you notice, Latinos have always used music to cross borders. What’s more, I have an uncle who crossed the border inside a piano.

That joke was segue to a bunch of more traditional award show one-liners.

Later in the night, the theme continued when Spanish crooner Enrique Iglesias accepted the award for Song of the Year. He gave a shout out to the President’s actions in his acceptance speech.

Good evening. We’re here in France, in Paris, and we want to send you a very big hug. We wish we could be there with all of you celebrating. This night is not only historic for all the Latino artists, but for all the Latino people who live in the U.S. A big hug. Thank you.

Then Carlos Vives, a Colombian singer, accepted an award further into the show. “I want to dedicate this especially to President Obama,” he said at the end of his speech, holding up his golden gramophone trophy.

The White House, which had scheduled the remarks to coincide with the Grammys, seemed pleased by the result. Shortly after Iglesias made his comments, the official White House Twitter account retweeted the news of his shout out.

In 2013, 9.8 million people watched the Latin Grammy Awards on Univision, making the channel a top-three network for the night in the U.S.

TIME

Legal Scholars: Obama’s Immigration Actions Lawful

Backing the President's Move

President Barack Obama’s announced immigration executive actions are lawful, a group of ten prominent legal scholars wrote in a joint letter shared by the White House with TIME.

Pushing back on Republicans who have blasted Obama’s action as unconstitutional and unlawful, the signatories include Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe, conservative legal scholar Eric Posner, and former Yale Law School Dean and former State Department Legal Advisor Harold Hongju Koh.

“While we differ among ourselves on many issues relating to Presidential power and immigration policy, we are all of the view that these actions are lawful,” the professors wrote. “They are exercises of prosecutorial discretion that are consistent with governing law and with the policies that Congress has expressed in the statutes that it has enacted.”

The letter reinforces a Justice Department opinion that the president’s actions were lawful. The same memorandum noted that the Office of Legal Counsel believed that extending prosecutorial discretion to prevent deportations of the parents of those granted deferred action in 2012 would not be lawful, providing Obama cover from criticism from advocates who wanted the president to do more.

The full letter is below:

TIME Immigration

Here’s Obama’s Immigration Speech In Full

President Barack Obama announced new executive actions on immigration Thursday evening in a primetime address to the nation. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

My fellow Americans, tonight, I’d like to talk with you about immigration.

For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations. It’s kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character as a people with limitless possibilities – people not trapped by our past, but able to remake ourselves as we choose.

But today, our immigration system is broken, and everybody knows it.

Families who enter our country the right way and play by the rules watch others flout the rules. Business owners who offer their workers good wages and benefits see the competition exploit undocumented immigrants by paying them far less. All of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America. And undocumented immigrants who desperately want to embrace those responsibilities see little option but to remain in the shadows, or risk their families being torn apart.

It’s been this way for decades. And for decades, we haven’t done much about it.

When I took office, I committed to fixing this broken immigration system. And I began by doing what I could to secure our borders. Today, we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history. And over the past six years, illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half. Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it’s been in nearly two years. Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Those are the facts.

Meanwhile, I worked with Congress on a comprehensive fix, and last year, 68 Democrats, Republicans, and Independents came together to pass a bipartisan bill in the Senate. It wasn’t perfect. It was a compromise, but it reflected common sense. It would have doubled the number of border patrol agents, while giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship if they paid a fine, started paying their taxes, and went to the back of the line. And independent experts said that it would help grow our economy and shrink our deficits.

Had the House of Representatives allowed that kind of a bill a simple yes-or-no vote, it would have passed with support from both parties, and today it would be the law. But for a year and a half now, Republican leaders in the House have refused to allow that simple vote.

Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law. But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President – the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican Presidents before me – that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just.

Tonight, I am announcing those actions.

First, we’ll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings, and speed the return of those who do cross over.

Second, I will make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed.

Third, we’ll take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already live in our country.

I want to say more about this third issue, because it generates the most passion and controversy. Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws. Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable – especially those who may be dangerous. That’s why, over the past six years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent. And that’s why we’re going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security. Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mother who’s working hard to provide for her kids. We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day.

But even as we focus on deporting criminals, the fact is, millions of immigrants – in every state, of every race and nationality – will still live here illegally. And let’s be honest – tracking down, rounding up, and deporting millions of people isn’t realistic. Anyone who suggests otherwise isn’t being straight with you. It’s also not who we are as Americans. After all, most of these immigrants have been here a long time. They work hard, often in tough, low-paying jobs. They support their families. They worship at our churches. Many of their kids are American-born or spent most of their lives here, and their hopes, dreams, and patriotism are just like ours.

As my predecessor, President Bush, once put it: “They are a part of American life.”

Now here’s the thing: we expect people who live in this country to play by the rules. We expect that those who cut the line will not be unfairly rewarded. So we’re going to offer the following deal: If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes – you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily, without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.

That’s what this deal is. Now let’s be clear about what it isn’t. This deal does not apply to anyone who has come to this country recently. It does not apply to anyone who might come to America illegally in the future. It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive – only Congress can do that. All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you.

I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty. Well, it’s not. Amnesty is the immigration system we have today – millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules, while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time.

That’s the real amnesty – leaving this broken system the way it is. Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character. What I’m describing is accountability – a commonsense, middle ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.

The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican President and every single Democratic President for the past half century. And to those Members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill. I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution. And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary. Meanwhile, don’t let a disagreement over a single issue be a dealbreaker on every issue. That’s not how our democracy works, and Congress certainly shouldn’t shut down our government again just because we disagree on this. Americans are tired of gridlock. What our country needs from us right now is a common purpose – a higher purpose.

Most Americans support the types of reforms I’ve talked about tonight. But I understand the disagreements held by many of you at home. Millions of us, myself included, go back generations in this country, with ancestors who put in the painstaking work to become citizens. So we don’t like the notion that anyone might get a free pass to American citizenship. I know that some worry immigration will change the very fabric of who we are, or take our jobs, or stick it to middle-class families at a time when they already feel like they’ve gotten the raw end of the deal for over a decade. I hear these concerns. But that’s not what these steps would do. Our history and the facts show that immigrants are a net plus for our economy and our society. And I believe it’s important that all of us have this debate without impugning each other’s character.

Because for all the back-and-forth of Washington, we have to remember that this debate is about something bigger. It’s about who we are as a country, and who we want to be for future generations.

Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law? Or are we a nation that gives them a chance to make amends, take responsibility, and give their kids a better future?

Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms? Or are we a nation that values families, and works to keep them together?

Are we a nation that educates the world’s best and brightest in our universities, only to send them home to create businesses in countries that compete against us? Or are we a nation that encourages them to stay and create jobs, businesses, and industries right here in America?

That’s what this debate is all about. We need more than politics as usual when it comes to immigration; we need reasoned, thoughtful, compassionate debate that focuses on our hopes, not our fears.

I know the politics of this issue are tough. But let me tell you why I have come to feel so strongly about it. Over the past few years, I have seen the determination of immigrant fathers who worked two or three jobs, without taking a dime from the government, and at risk at any moment of losing it all, just to build a better life for their kids. I’ve seen the heartbreak and anxiety of children whose mothers might be taken away from them just because they didn’t have the right papers. I’ve seen the courage of students who, except for the circumstances of their birth, are as American as Malia or Sasha; students who bravely come out as undocumented in hopes they could make a difference in a country they love. These people – our neighbors, our classmates, our friends – they did not come here in search of a free ride or an easy life. They came to work, and study, and serve in our military, and above all, contribute to America’s success.

Tomorrow, I’ll travel to Las Vegas and meet with some of these students, including a young woman named Astrid Silva. Astrid was brought to America when she was four years old. Her only possessions were a cross, her doll, and the frilly dress she had on. When she started school, she didn’t speak any English. She caught up to the other kids by reading newspapers and watching PBS, and became a good student. Her father worked in landscaping. Her mother cleaned other people’s homes. They wouldn’t let Astrid apply to a technology magnet school for fear the paperwork would out her as an undocumented immigrant – so she applied behind their back and got in. Still, she mostly lived in the shadows – until her grandmother, who visited every year from Mexico, passed away, and she couldn’t travel to the funeral without risk of being found out and deported. It was around that time she decided to begin advocating for herself and others like her, and today, Astrid Silva is a college student working on her third degree.

Are we a nation that kicks out a striving, hopeful immigrant like Astrid – or are we a nation that finds a way to welcome her in?

Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger – we were strangers once, too.

My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too. And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship. What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal – that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.

That’s the country our parents and grandparents and generations before them built for us. That’s the tradition we must uphold. That’s the legacy we must leave for those who are yet to come.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless this country we love.

TIME Immigration

Obama to Give Legal Status to Almost 5 Million Undocumented Immigrants

Official calls executive actions "temporary and reversible"

President Barack Obama announced Thursday he is granting temporary legal status and work permits to almost five million undocumented immigrants living in the country illegally, the largest single immigration action in modern American history.

More than four million undocumented immigrants who are the parents of U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident children will receive new legal status under Obama’s executive action, if they have been living in the country for at least five years, pay back taxes, and pass a criminal background check.

Obama, who will formally take the action on Friday at an event in Las Vegas, will also offer temporary status to several hundred thousand immigrants who came to the country as children, but did not qualify for his action on deferred deportations in 2012. This group includes those who were born before 1981 and those who arrived in the U.S. between June 15, 2007 and Jan. 1, 2010.

MORE: Republican governors blast Obama’s immigration plan

“Mass amnesty would be unfair,” Obama said in an impassioned address to the nation from the East Room of the White House. “Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character. What I’m describing is accountability—a commonsense, middle ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.”

A senior Obama Administration official described the action as a “pretty routine application of enforcement priorities” in a briefing for reporters Thursday afternoon. “It is not a pathway to citizenship. It is temporary and it is reversible.”

The last time such a large number of undocumented immigrants got legal status was through legislation President Ronald Reagan signed in 1986, which gave a path to citizenship for about three million people. There are currently about 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

The plan, which will be put into place by memoranda and the actions of cabinet officials, will also include new priorities and procedures for detaining and deporting those undocumented immigrants not granted special status. The new deportation priorities will focus on removing criminals, gang members, and those who have arrived in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2014.

“Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids,” Obama said. “We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day.”

“Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger—we were strangers once, too,” Obama added, quoting Exodus. “My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants We were strangers once, too.”

The President and his team decided not to extend the special legal status to the parents of undocumented children, a group that could have covered several hundred thousand additional immigrants. “We made a determination that the law essentially did not support that,” the official said. In a publicly-released memo, the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel wrote that in its opinion Obama could not justify granting deferred action to the parents of those covered by the 2012 “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program.

MORE: Republicans brace for an immigration fight with Obama

That temporary legal status, which was granted to hundreds of thousands of child arrivals in 2012, will now have to be reviewed every three years. Obama compared his action to those taken by every Republican and Democrat for the past 50 years, telling lawmakers on Capitol Hill that if they question his authority to act, “I have one answer: Pass a bill.”

In a video statement released before Obama’s speech, Speaker of the House John Boehner criticized Obama for acting unilaterally. “The President has said before that he’s not king and he’s not an emperor, but he’s sure acting like one,” he said. “And he’s doing it at a time when the American people want nothing more than for us to work together.”

Some Republican governors have threatened to sue to undermine Obama’s action, while on Capitol Hill, GOP lawmakers have threatened to use legislation to try to block or defund the plan. Senior Administration officials said the expansion of temporary legal status would be funded through fees, and therefore could not be defunded by Congress. But Obama aides have not ruled out other legal routes to try to block the measure.

A third Administration official said the President would not sign any such effort into law. “That in and of itself would be something the President would veto,” the official said.

Read next: Hillary Clinton Backs President Obama’s Immigration Announcement

TIME Immigration

See the States Where Obama’s Immigration Actions Will Affect the Most People

As many as five million people could see their legal status change

Of the estimated 11.3 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, nearly half are expected now to be eligible to avoid deportation under President Obama’s forthcoming executive actions. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that 3.7 million undocumented parents of citizens or legal permanent residents fall under the protection of the actions. Obama is also expected to expend coverage of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, encompassing a total of 1.5 million others.

The following map shows where these 5 million people live, according to MPI’s estimates. Data was unavailable for a handful of states with low immigrant populations.

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TIME Immigration

House Republicans Argue Over Immigration Response

Sara Ramirez, of Gaithersberg, Md. rallies for comprehensive immigration reform outside the White House in Washington D.C. on Nov. 7, 2014.
Sara Ramirez, of Gaithersburg, Md., rallies for comprehensive immigration reform outside the White House in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 7, 2014 Jacquelyn Martin—AP

Conservatives want a spending fight that appropriators say wouldn't work

Even before President Obama officially announces a major executive action shielding millions of undocumented workers from deportation, Republicans in the House are clashing over how to stop it.

On one side: Conservatives who want to revoke funding for the government programs that will carry out Obama’s unilateral actions. On the other side, appropriators argue that won’t work because of how the programs are funded.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers is pushing for a package of spending bills that would fund the government through September and take a defund effort off the table. His staff noted that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which will likely be in charge of administering Obama’s changes, gets its money through fees and wouldn’t be affected by a spending fight — or even a shutdown.

“Congress does not appropriate funds for any of its operations, including the issuance of immigration status or work permits, with the exception of the ‘E-Verify’ program,” says Rogers spokeswoman Jennifer Hing. “Therefore, the Appropriations process cannot be used to ‘de-fund’ the agency. The agency has the ability to continue to collect and use fees to continue current operations, and to expand operations as under a new executive order, without needing legislative approval by the Appropriations Committee or the Congress, even under a continuing resolution or a government shutdown.”

But conservatives weren’t buying that argument.

“We could scoop all of their fees if we chose to do that,” says Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). “We could shut them down if we chose to do that. So I don’t think it’s hard at all. I think people are looking for an argument when they find out this doesn’t work they’ll create another one.”

“Just write it into the bill,” he adds. “’No fees shall be used…’”

“We have not had the discussion in conference but at the end of the day it’s our responsibility to approve any spending out of the Treasury—the Constitution is very clear on that,” argued Kansas Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp. “I’m not going to give up that authority just because the president wants to take it.”

Conservative Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions and even appropriators say that Congress could change how the Citizenship and Immigration Services uses its fees with new authorization. But appropriators argue that Obama would veto the bill, the government would shut down, and the program would continue to operate with its fees.

“There are authorization lines in every bill, especially these big ones,” counters Sessions. “We’ve done it time and time again. It’s a narrow, discrete fix.”

“This is a matter of constitutional importance,” he adds. “This is a presidential overreach.”

Senior Republicans are wary of statements from its most extreme flanks, like outgoing Rep. Michele Bachmann’s comments to the Washington Post that Obama’s measure would incur a “social cost” to taxpayers, with “millions of unskilled, illiterate, foreign nationals coming into the United States who can’t speak the English language.”

“That’s the trouble with having some of these new young punks around here,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told the Washington Post. “They ought to listen to us old geezers.”

TIME 2016 Election

Jim Webb is Running

Meet the Press - Season 67
Former Sen. Jim Webb, left, and moderator Chuck Todd, right, appear on Meet the Press in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. William B. Plowman—NBC/Getty Images

He's a long shot, but could give Hillary heartburn

With all the impact of a sparrow’s feather landing in the forest, former Virginia Senator Jim Webb announced the formation of a 2016 presidential exploratory committee last night. He did it in a video and letter sent to supporters. He thus becomes the first official challenger to Hillary Clinton, who has not yet gone exploratory, on the Democratic side.

Webb is interesting. He is not your standard-issue politician. He is a decorated former Marine, perhaps the best war novelist of the Vietnam generation, Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan. His one term in the Senate was protean, with Webb focusing on issues as diverse as the reestablishment of relations with Burma, and prison reform, and the new GI bill for Iraq-Afghanistan veterans.

He will be a refreshing presence on the campaign trail. He doesn’t talk like a politician. He can be blunt and combative. He has taken strong populist economic stands and was a strong opponent of the war in Iraq. In fact, Webb goes in strong whenever he takes a stand. He’ll certainly be fun to watch during debates (he was a boxer at Annapolis).

You’d have to call him a longshot, of course. But I suspect he’ll be one of those long shots who have the power to shape a campaign with new ideas and sharp arguments. He will certainly cause Clinton some populist agita, should she run.

TIME Health Care

Obama Administration Boosted Obamacare Numbers With Dental Plans

Obamacare Expedited Bid Process Limited Who Could Build Website
Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Says it was a "mistake," having earlier counted dental plans separately

The Obama administration discreetly included dental plan sign-ups in its most recent report on the Affordable Care Act’s enrollment numbers.

The White House claimed in September that 7.3 million people had enrolled in insurance plans under Obamacare, surpassing President Obama’s 7 million sign-up goal. But investigators from the House Oversight and Government Committee analyzed these enrollments and found that as many as 400,000 of the plans were simply for dental coverage, Bloomberg reports. In earlier reports, the administration had counted dental plans separately.

Excluding dental plans, Obamacare enrollment would be around 6.7 million — missing the administration’s stated goal. The Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement Thursday calling the numbers a “mistake”:

A mistake was made in calculating the number of individuals with effectuated Marketplace enrollments. We have determined that individuals who had both Marketplace medical and dental coverage were erroneously counted in our recent announcements. The correct number of individuals with effectuated Marketplace medical coverage as of October 15 is approximately 6.7 million. Our target for 2015 open enrollment remains 9.1 million individuals. Moving forward only individuals with medical coverage will be included in our effectuated enrollment numbers.

U.S. Health and Human Service Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell called the error “unacceptable”

Burwell had perviously asserted that the success of Affordable Care Act should be measured by the U.S. uninsured rate, not the Obamacare enrollment numbers, which may fluctuate. The uninsured rate is down about four percentage points to 13.4% over the past year.

 

[Bloomberg]

TIME curiosities

Partying Politics: LIFE Goes to a Republican Women’s Bacchanal

Recalling the night when the Young Women's Republican Club of Milford, Conn., discovered the pleasures of tobacco, poker … and strip tease

“On the evening of May 20,” begins an article in the June 16, 1941, issue of LIFE magazine, “members of the Young Women’s Republican Club of Milford, Conn., explored the pleasures of tobacco, poker, the strip tease and such other masculine enjoyments as had frequently cost them the evening companionship of husbands, sons and brothers.”

Thus the storied weekly and photographer Nina Leen chronicled the shenanigans that erupted when a group of GOP women got together for an old-fashioned “smoker” (noun: an informal social gathering for men only) on one long, memorable night in southern New England.

[See more from LIFE]

TIME abortion

Ohio ‘Heartbeat’ Abortion Bill Gets Panel’s OK

The divisive measure had languished without a hearing since it was introduced more than a year ago

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — A bill that would impose some of the nation’s most stringent abortion restrictions cleared an Ohio House committee Thursday after suddenly re-surfacing in the lame duck session.

The GOP-led House Health Committee passed the so-called heartbeat bill 11-6 after several emotional hours of testimony. The divisive measure had languished without a hearing since it was introduced more than a year ago. A nearly identical bill cleared the House in 2011 but was stopped in the state Senate.

The legislation would restrict most abortions at the first detectable fetal heartbeat, which can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Before the vote, abortion rights advocates attacked the measure as unnecessary, dangerous and misogynist, and the American Civil Liberties Union warned it would draw an immediate, costly legal challenge if passed.

Meanwhile, passionate proponents called abortion murder and defended their right as public servants to protect human life.

Chairman Lynn Wachtmann, a Republican from Napoleon, allowed questioning to stray into witnesses’ beliefs on when life begins and whether one witness had children of his own. He then repeatedly gaveled discussion out of order.

At one point, Rep. Nickie Antonio, a Lakewood Democrat, led a collective deep breath in the packed room charged with emotion.

Women delivered heart-wrenching testimony on both sides of the debate.

One woman brought gifts for committee members from her young daughter, Isabella, conceived when the mother was raped as a 17-year-old high school student.

Another recounted roadblocks she faced in ending a pregnancy after the fetus was determined to be unviable and she’d decided on an abortion in consultation with her doctors, family and rabbi.

The heartbeat bill has fiercely divided Ohio’s anti-abortion community, with some fearing a court challenge could undo other abortion restrictions already in place. It is not supported by Ohio Right to Life, the state’s largest and oldest anti-abortion group.

Supporters hope the bill would provoke a legal challenge with the potential to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion up until viability, usually at 22 to 24 weeks.

Similar measures have been challenged in other states.

Ohio supporters of the bill say different federal court judges have different opinions, as has been the case with gay-marriage bans.

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