Congressional Committee Will Hold Hearing on Bill to Ban Abortions After Baby’s Heart Begins Beating

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Oct 30, 2017   |   4:29PM   |   Washington, DC

A U.S. House subcommittee is scheduled to consider a bill Wednesday to protect unborn babies from abortion once they have a detectable heartbeat.

U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, introduced the Heartbeat Protection Act earlier this year. KIOW News reports the bill, which has 170 co-sponsors, will be debated Wednesday in a House Judiciary subcommittee.

“Since Roe v. Wade was unconstitutionally decided in 1973, nearly 60 million innocent babies’ lives have been ended by the abortion industry, all with a rubber stamp by the federal government,” King said in a statement. “Human life, beginning at the moment of conception, is sacred in all of its forms and we must protect the lives of voiceless innocents.”

The bill would prohibit abortions when the unborn baby’s heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy. It would allow an exception when the mother’s life is in jeopardy; however, the exception applies to physical risks only, not “psychological or emotional conditions,” according to Bustle. Abortionists who violate the measure could be punished with up to five years in prison.

“The Heartbeat Protection Act, H.R. 490, will require all physicians, before conducting an abortion, to detect the heartbeat of the unborn child and if a heartbeat is detected, the baby is protected,” King said. “I welcome this opportunity to have my legislation given in depth consideration by Congress and to bring attention to the importance of preserving each of these precious lives.”

Many years ago, scientific research established that an unborn baby’s heart starts beating around 21 days after fertilization – usually before the woman knows she is pregnant. Many sources on fetal development report this, though others link to evidence that the heartbeat begins at about 18 days. Late last year, researchers at the University of Oxford found evidence that an unborn baby’s heart may begin beating even earlier – by 16 days after conception, according to the Daily Mail.

The Rev. Stephen Imbarrato, a priest and pastoral associate of Priests For Life, told Western Journalism that the bill will help to educate the public about the humanity of the unborn child.

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“I really feel that these difficult bills that we have been hesitant to bring forward in the past are such an opportunity for us to educate the constituents, the people of American, about what is really going on in terms of killing our unborn brothers and sisters in the womb and actually wounding the hearts of so many women,” Imbarrato said.

Such bills have been met with skepticism in the past, even by many pro-life groups and advocates. Because of the current make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts, a bill to end abortions or prohibit them after a detectable heartbeat most likely would not survive a court challenge at this point.

North Dakota and Arkansas passed heartbeat bills several years ago, but federal courts struck down both laws. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said the following about their ruling on the six-week ban: “Because there is no genuine dispute that (North Dakota’s law) generally prohibits abortions before viability — as the Supreme Court has defined that concept — and because we are bound by Supreme Court precedent holding that states may not prohibit pre-viability abortions, we must affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the plaintiffs.”

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the cases in 2016.

According to the pro-abortion blog Bustle, King responded to these concerns:

Newsweek reported that Rep. King believes his heartbeat bill has a fighting chance because, by the time it could potentially reach the Supreme Court, he believes [President Donald] Trump will have had the opportunity to appoint a pro-life justice. The ultimate goal, then, would be to defang or overturn Roe V. Wade, which nationally legalized abortions in 1973.

Currently, only four of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices possibly would uphold a heartbeat law or overturn Roe.