Keith Kidwell files fetal heartbeat (anti-abortion) bill HB31


Speaking of Vetoes and Democratic solidarity:

§ 14-45.1. When abortion not unlawful. (a) Notwithstanding any of the provisions of G.S.14-44 and 14-45, it shall not be unlawful, during the first 20 weeks of a woman's pregnancy, prior to a determination by a qualified physician licensed to practice medicine in North Carolina that the unborn child has a detectable human heartbeat, to advise, procure, or cause a miscarriage or abortion when the procedure is performed by a qualified physician licensed to practice medicine in North Carolina in a hospital or clinic certified by the Department of Health and Human Services to be a suitable facility for the performance of abortions.

Just so you know, some sort of rhythmic pulse can be detected as early as 5 1/2 weeks, before many women are even aware they are pregnant. Here's some history on this type of bill:

Fetal heartbeat” bans, like those enacted in both Ohio and Georgia, are some of the most restrictive types of gestational limitations on abortion in the U.S. They prohibit abortion at the point a fetal heartbeat is detectable by ultrasound—as early as six weeks’ gestation. This is often a point before many discover they are pregnant. Ohio and Georgia are not the first states to have enacted fetal heartbeat bans, however, and current legislative trends suggest they will not be the last. In 2019 alone, lawmakers have proposed heartbeat bans in at least 14 other state legislatures.

Arkansas, Iowa, and North Dakota have enacted heartbeat bans in recent years. The courts in those states have held that the bans are unconstitutional because they violate the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which held that states may not prohibit a woman from obtaining an abortion prior to fetal viability. The landmark case defines viability as the point at which a fetus is capable of living with or without artificial aid outside the womb. Today, that point occurs at approximately 24 weeks’ gestation.

Based on previous court decisions, future heartbeat bans could face a similar fate. Legislators who sponsor the bills suggest that the ultimate purpose behind the bans is to challenge legal precedents altogether. A prompt legal challenge could, in theory, result in a split among the circuit courts and push the newly conservative Supreme Court to revisit Roe. If reversed, the Court could virtually eliminate abortion rights; states would have the authority to ban abortion at any point during a pregnancy. Some states have already gone this far—Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill on May 15 that criminalizes performing an abortion at any stage in a pregnancy, even in the case of rape or incest.

We need to make sure this one doesn't make it far enough to be challenged in court.



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on this page, but it always helps to know the bill number (that was a loud hint to reporters covering the General Assembly).

There will be hundreds filed in the next few months, and it's tempting to be complacent, leaving it up to wonks and progressive orgs to detect and expose the really bad ones. But the sooner they are detected, the better.