The “heartbeat” issue


Medical News Today

Khalila Firestone, Staff Writer

In 1973, the United States Supreme Court initiated the Roe v. Wade case law.  In the case, the majority ruled that women had the right to an abortion under the Fourteenth Amendment, and that a state law to ban abortion before a certain viable point (24 weeks) was unconstitutional.

As of May 2019, there are multiple laws set to go into effect that would directly challenge the Roe v. Wade ruling.

Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Alabama, and Missouri are the states pushing new “heartbeat laws” and other rulings of similar purposes, widely banning abortions at early terms of pregnancy, with increasingly strict consequences.

Here are the states and details regarding some of the most restrictive abortion bills:


The recent Alabama law is the most severe and has been deemed the most restrictive abortion law it the entire country. Republican Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill which would make any abortion under any circumstances illegal, excepting necessity regarding health of the mother or fatal anomalies in exceptionally unhealthy fetuses. Even the exceptions widely deemed acceptable by Republicans; abortions under circumstances of rape or incest- are illegal under the law, which is due to go into effect in six months. The execution of the law would allow for persecution of doctors who perform abortions. The sentence for attempting to perform an abortion would be ten years of incarceration, while fully performing the abortion could result in up to ninety-nine years. Enacting the law would make performing an abortion in Alabama a class A felony. In the state, statutory rape is a class B felony with a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison, and incest and sexual abuse are class C felonies, with a ten-year maximum sentence.


Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed House Bill 481 on May 7th, dubbed a “heartbeat law.” This name comes from the fact that the bill would ban any abortion after the 6-week pregnancy mark, as that is the average date at which a heartbeat can be detected in an ultrasound. This law is also in direct conflict with Roe v. Wade. While the law’s purpose was to possibly prosecute women, doctors, and pharmacists under a criminal abortion charge, but the bill technically allows for people to pursue a murder charge. At the moment, multiple Georgia District Attorneys have promised they will not prosecute under 481.


In May, Missouri passed House Bill 126, another heartbeat law called the “Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act.” This law bans abortions after 8 weeks from conception, with no rape or incest exception. There is currently one functioning abortion clinic in the State, a planned parenthood who’s abortion license was set to expire until a State judge set up a temporary restraining order, allowing hope for the clinic, at least until the trial set for June 4th. If the license is denied renewal, Missouri will be the only state without a legal abortion clinic.