Pro-life legislators in several states have pre-filed bills for consideration during the next year’s legislative session, including bills in three states that would prohibit abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat.
In 2019, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Missouri could become the next states to attempt to pass this legislation. Lawmakers in all three states have pre-filed heartbeat bills for consideration and possible votes in the coming months.
Each of the states have governors who describe themselves as “pro-life,” as well as Republican majorities in their state legislatures, offering a strong possibility of the bills becoming law.
Texas state senator Bob Hall has pre-filed a bill proposing a change to the state’s constitution to enshrine that “the right to life applies to an unborn child.” Currently in Texas, a woman can obtain an abortion until the 20th week of a pregnancy. A similar bill has been proposed in past sessions of the Texas legislature.
Should the bills pass the state legislature, there would still be other hurdles to clear before they could come into effect.
Earlier this year, Iowa and Ohio both considered “heartbeat bills” that ban abortion after approximately six weeks gestation, when the heartbeat can be detected. Iowa’s bill was signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), but was immediately blocked by a judge and remain the subject of a court battle.
Ohio’s bill was vetoed by Gov. John Kasich (R), and the state’s Senate failed to reach the super-majority needed to override the veto by a single vote, preventing the bill from becoming law.
Kasich did, however, sign a bill to ban the late-term abortion procedure called “dilation and evacuation.” This procedure is used in a large majority of second-trimester abortions. In 2015, about 3,000 abortions in Ohio were carried out by this method.
The new law makes the procedure a fourth-degree felony charge, punishable by up to 18 months in prison for any doctor found to have performed a dilation and evacuation abortion.
Nationally, figures show that the abortion rate dropped to its lowest level since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision found that a woman had a right to an abortion throughout pregnancy. A report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which studied the abortion rate placed in the United States placed it at 188 abortions per 1,000 live births in 2015, down from 233 in 2005.