General Article

Restrictive Fetal Heartbeat Bills Face Uphill Challenge

The state of Iowa now has one of the nation’s most stringent abortion regimes, which pro-choice advocates say sets Roe v. Wade back to the initial fight. Iowa’s Governor, Kim Reynolds, signed off on the controversial law last May that required doctors to listen for a fetal heartbeat before approving an abortion. This law was struck down by Iowa’s Supreme Court, but that doesn’t mean pro-life advocates are ending this without a fight.

So what does this “heartbeat” test mean? It comes down to not having a legal abortion after 6 weeks, when most fetal heartbeats are first heard. Now, when it comes to terminating a pregnancy, for residents in des moines ia gynecologist say traveling to Illinois was the next best option.

A Pro-Choice Setback Goes To Supreme Court

In 1973, Jane Roe sued against the prohibition of abortion, and the case made its way to the Supreme Court. A young Texan, 22-year old Norma McCorvey, sued under the pseudonym “Jane Roe” against the US abortion ban. McCorvey was single and pregnant for the third time, but in Texas, abortions were banned at that time. By the time the court case made its way to the Supreme Court, McCorvey had birthed the child. Nevertheless, she continued with the court case, and abortions were legalized across the country. While the updated Iowa law does not preclude abortions, requiring a “fetal heartbeat” test is certainly a setback.

The newest law tried to go into effect last July 2018. The bill prohibited abortion if the unborn baby’s heartbeat is detected. According to doctors, a fetal heartbeat can be detected around the 6th to 7th week of pregnancy. This measure required a doctor to evaluate each pregnant woman, to determine the presence of fetal heartbeats. A doctor performing abortions, after detecting a heartbeat could face a Class D offense. This is punishable by more than five years in prison. Although the law establishes certain exceptions when it comes to rape and incest or when the life of the mother is at risk. The ACLU continues to challenge these restrictive laws.

Other States Will Follow Iowa’s Restrictions

Several states like Alabama, Texas, and Mississippi have amended state laws, which were voters got to weigh in on. Most of these newest amendments view the rights of the unborn, and pretty much ban abortions or prohibit state funding from paying for abortions. Like Iowa, Texas legislature is looking to pass the Texas “heartbeat” bill HB1500.

Texas Democrats say this regulation could cause most of the abortive health centers in Texas to close -which will deny access to many people from rural areas- and will make women look for second, more dangerous options to carry out an abortion. Democratic representatives have tried to include several clauses in the law, for example, to take into account the cases of rape and incest and women could abort after 20 weeks, but Republicans rejected these exceptions. It has been 45 years since the Supreme Court ruled that abortion is a constitutional right, but that could be nearing an end.