Last year’s addition of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was a big win for conservatives hoping to limit certain civil liberties. Specifically, their focus is on the historic Roe V. Wade decision. The 1973 case established current abortion rights and has been a sore spot for Conservatives ever since. The latest attempt to dictate the bodies of women through abortion rights comes out of Kentucky with their newly proposed “Heartbeat Ban” legislation.
Sponsored by Republican Representative Robert Goforth, the bill will make it illegal to obtain an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detectable.
The major issue with this is that fetal heartbeats are detectable as soon as 6 weeks in utero — before many women even realize they’re pregnant.
CREDIT: Twitter / @NARAL
The new bill will make it a felony for medical personnel to perform an abortion while a heartbeat is present. The only exception allowed is a medical emergency that would result in death if the pregnancy is continued to term. No doubt, the controversial bill is set to attract national debate around the independent limitations states have when it comes to abortion rights. Still, even despite that legislature that dictates otherwise, Rep. Goforth has revealed his belief that the religious issues outweigh the legal ones.
“When that baby’s heart’s beating, you have to recognize that is a life there,” Rep. Goforth explained in a statement to the press. “The only person that should be the author of life is God and not man.”
Coincidently, Rep. Goforth announced his candidacy for governor of Kentucky shortly after proposing this bill. He is the first Republican to enter the gubernatorial race. Without a doubt, the Heartbeat Ban is an attempt to capitalize on conservative, voters and to gain GOP backing.
This sort of restrictive heartbeat ban is nothing new.
CREDIT: Twitter / @kylegriffin1
In 2018, the Ohio Senate failed to pass a similar piece of legislation that would have outlawed abortions after a heartbeat is detectable. Outgoing Republican Governor John Kasich vetoed the bill after it initially passed the Senate vote. The same legislation was also vetoed in Ohio back in 2016. While the controversial nature of abortion rights have been dated for decades, Heartbeat Bans are especially contentious. Mostly this is because the early date of a detectable heartbeat combined with this potential ban is extremely limiting. It’s also a direct conflict with national abortion laws. As a result, the Kentucky division of the ACLU plans to fight this bill as they have fought similar legislation across the country. Kate Miller, the advocacy director of the ACLU of Kentucky, explained why this new bill would be so damaging.
“That’s pretty close to when you would be missing your first period,” Miller explained. “From a practical perspective, many individuals don’t even know they’re pregnant at the six-week mark. The ACLU of Kentucky has very serious concerns when it comes to the constitutionality of this legislation and we will be monitoring it very, very, very closely in this upcoming legislative session.”
More than likely, this limitation would greatly impact low-income communities.
CREDIT: Twitter / @ACLU
Forced pregnancies would have terrible repercussions. The places where access to health care and prenatal care are most limited would see an increase in birthrates but also an increase in infant and maternal death. Black neighborhoods, immigrant communities, and communities of color will be disproportionally affected. Still, despite the logical and legal objections, this bill is likely to be carried to a vote.
Across the country, several states already have severe limitations to abortion. Limiting access to healthcare, sex education and abortion clinics are some of the most subversive ways that states attack abortion rights. Four states (Mississippi, Louisiana, North Dakota and South Dakota) have trigger laws which will automatically ban all abortions if Roe V Wade was over turned. Iowa already has a Heartbeat Ban in place. The legislation is similar to Kentucky’s bill and limits abortions after a heartbeat is found. Due to specifics of the law, abortion is essentially outlawed in Kentucky. The viability of a fetus is usually marked at 24 weeks. With Roe V. Wade, an abortion past this mark is against the law. However, 21 states have pasted legislation that outlaws abortion at an even earlier stage; further limiting the right’s of their citizens.
There are a number of other obstacles that states have enforced to make abortions more difficult, complicated and painful.
CREDIT: Twitter / @OhioWomensWatch
In 11 states, patients are required to undergo an ultrasound to view the fetus before terminating the pregnancy. Mandatory counseling in required in 35 states before an abortion can be performed. Of those 35, 13 states require doctors to give patients unfounded information — namely that fetuses feel pain in the womb. The sad truth is that women who need abortions will find a way to get them. Before Roe V Wade, they found a way and many women were lost to botched and unsafe practices. Despite what anti-abortion figures say, strong abortion rights have saved lives. As a society, we should make it safer for these procedures and the women who receive them. The Heartbeat Ban would offer the exact opposite of that.