Lawmakers around the country are passing bills restricting abortion that could one day factor into a challenge to Roe v. Wade under a Supreme Court whose balance of power is newly tilted toward conservatives.
In the latest example, Alabama’s governor signed a bill banning abortion in nearly all cases.
The move in Alabama comes just weeks after Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, signed into law a restrictive new ban on many abortions in that state.
The so-called fetal heartbeat law bans abortions once a heartbeat can be detected, often after just five or six weeks, and before many women know they are pregnant. Georgia previously banned abortions after 20 weeks.
Women’s reproductive groups say such heartbeat bills effectively ban most abortions outright. Many women, according to the CDC, won’t know they are pregnant for four to six weeks, meaning that by the time they’ve learned they are, it’s too late to obtain an abortion, especially if the woman lives in a state that requires a waiting period.
Still, antiabortion advocates see an opening for implementing new abortion restrictions in the wake of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, which pushed the balance of power in favor of conservatives. Activists hope challenges to abortion laws will reach the Supreme Court, where Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that guaranteed the right to abortion, can be overturned or weakened.
Highly restrictive abortion proposals are cropping up in state legislatures across the country. Here’s a look at states where they’ve been enacted, and where they’re being considered.
Goveror Kay Ivey signed into law a bill that bans abortion at any stage of pregnancy. Lawmakers did not include exceptions for rape and incest in the passed bill, which does contain an exception for when a pregnancy creates a serious health risk for a woman. Under the bill, doctors could be charged with a felony for performing the procedure and face decades in prison.
Georgia’s abortion law bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Exceptions for rape and incest are allowed only if a girl or woman has filed a police report.
Kentucky’s fetal heartbeat bill, which was to take effect immediately after being passed in March, was temporarily blocked by a federal judge.
In March, just months after a ban on abortion after 15 weeks was struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge, Governor Phil Bryant signed an even more restrictive bill, banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. It contains no exceptions for rape or incest.
Ohio’s law also bans abortion once a heartbeat is detected and provides no exceptions for rape or incest. Critics are pointing to the case of an 11-year-old Ohio girl who was allegedly raped by a 26-year-old man, impregnating her. Under the new law, which is not yet in effect, the girl would be forced to carry the pregnancy to term.
Lawmakers in the Missouri Legislature passed legislation to ban abortion at eight weeks of pregnancy, just hours before a legislative deadline to pass bills. The measure was signed into law by the state’s governor a short time later.
Louisiana lawmakers have passed a strict ban on abortion as early as six weeks of pregnancy, without rape or incest exceptions. Governor John Bel Edwards, the Deep South’s only Democratic governor, signed it into law despite opposition from national party leaders who say such laws are attacks on women.
After passing the House, efforts to enact a heartbeat bill in Tennessee failed in the state Senate in April. Lawmakers instead passed legislation that would automatically ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
West Virginia’s heartbeat bill was introduced and referred to committee before the 2019 regular session ended in March.
The South Carolina House passed a heartbeat bill in late April, but because of legislative rules, the bill’s proponents need a two-thirds vote in the Senate to bring it to the floor for debate, according to the Post and Courier.