After the Kentucky Senate heard the beating heart of a woman’s unborn baby last week, they voted 31-6 to pass a bill that would ban most abortions in the state once a fetal heartbeat is detected. The measure would require anyone seeking an abortion to first determine if a fetal heartbeat is detectable, typically about six weeks into pregnancy. The bill now heads to the House.
April Lanham, who is 18 weeks pregnant and lives in the district of the bill’s lead sponsor, Senator Matt Castlen, allowed a roomful of people to hear the heartbeat of her unborn baby via an electronic monitor. Lanham said afterward she did so because the heartbeat would be a “powerful noise” for lawmakers to hear before the vote. Sen. Castlen said, “That child in her womb is a living human being. And all living human beings have a right to life.”
Abortion survivor Claire Culwell also testified. Culwell said, “Science and medical technology would have shown you that I was a separate human being with a separate DNA and a separate beating heart inside of my birth mother’s body.”
On the same day, the Kentucky House also passed a bill to ban nearly all abortions in the state when Roe v. Wade is overturned. The bill would still allow for abortions in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. The bill passed by a vote of 69-20 and will now head to the Senate.
Two bills proposing to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected advanced out of House and Senate committees in the Mississippi Legislature. Gov. Phil Bryant is pledging to sign either one into law. An author of the “heartbeat bill,” Sen. Angela Hill, said, “I see in this country that we protect sea turtle eggs and we protect other endangered species of animals with a greater degree of scrutiny and zealousness than we protect a child in the womb that has a beating heart. The womb should be the safest place in the world for an unborn child. I’m asking Mississippi to be different.”
Mississippi previously passed a 15-week abortion ban, which a judge struck down late last year. The state plans to appeal that decision.
Florida Sen. Dennis Baxley filed SB 792 this month, which states that it would be a felony for any person who “knowingly or purposefully performs or induces an abortion on a pregnant woman with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of the unborn human being whose fetal heartbeat has been detected.” The fetal heartbeat bill was filed for consideration during the legislative session that begins on March 5. Currently, Florida law allows for abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Kentucky, Mississippi and Florida also join states like Tennessee, South Carolina and North Dakota. A new heartbeat bill also will be introduced in Ohio. In 2018, the last one passed the house and senate but was vetoed by then-Governor Kasich. The new Republican Governor Mike DeWine said he would “absolutely” support a heartbeat bill. In Tennessee, Republican Gov. Bill Lee and the top two GOP state lawmakers say they support the measure.
Last week, the Utah House passed a bill that, if approved by the Senate and signed by the governor, would protect preborn children with Down syndrome from being aborted for the condition. The bill was approved by a vote of 54-15. As of January 1, 2019, Utah now has a law ensuring that women choosing to undergo abortions have to complete an online module which would educate her on childbirth (including fetal development, with photos), abortion (including a section on fetal pain), adoption, and other aid resources available to her before she makes her decision about her pregnancy.
“If the vilest criminal cannot be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, then how much more should laws protect an innocent unborn child from the most despicable form of torture and death?” said Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver. “The only difference between a baby in the womb and an already born baby is that you can’t hear the baby in the womb screaming in pain. Every state must fight to make the womb a safe place again,” said Staver.