Kentucky Legislators Want to Overturn Roe, File Bill to Ban Abortions on Babies With Beating Hearts

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jan 14, 2019   |   12:42PM   |   Frankfort, KY

Kentucky lawmakers hope their new heartbeat bill will succeed in protecting unborn babies across the nation by overturning Roe v. Wade someday.

Introduced last week, the bill would prohibit abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy. Doctors could be charged with a felony for violating the measure, but exceptions would be allowed for medical emergencies that threaten the mother’s life.

State Sen. Damon Thayer, the Republican majority leader in the Kentucky Senate, said he hopes the new conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court will uphold the law, the Louisville Courier Journal reports.

“I would be proud if it’s Kentucky that takes it up to the Supreme Court and we change Roe v. Wade,” Thayer said. The four-decade-old ruling allows abortion on demand and led to the abortion deaths of about 60 million unborn babies in America.

The bill appears likely to pass the Kentucky legislature, and pro-life Gov. Matt Bevin said he supports it, according to the report.

Pro-life lawmakers are more hopeful now that the U.S. Supreme Court has a conservative majority. A number of state lawmakers have introduced bills in the past six months to ban abortions completely or prohibit them after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable.

A legal challenge is almost certain when these bills pass. The ACLU already is attacking the Kentucky bill as “blatantly unconstitutional,” according to Bustle.

“This is certainly the most blatant attempt to take aim at Roe v. Wade,” ACLU attorney Brigitte Amiri told NBC News. “It’s extreme. It’s yet again anti-abortion politicians trying to push abortion out of reach for women in this state.”

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LEX 18 News reports the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups are planning to lobby against the bill Thursday in the Kentucky Capitol.

Heartbeat bills have been met with skepticism in the past, even by some pro-life groups, because of pro-abortion legal challenges. When pro-abortion groups win, state taxpayers often are forced to pay the pro-abortion groups’ legal fees, and the laws, which never go into effect, do not save any babies’ lives.

Thayer told the local news that a legal fight is worth it because of what is at stake.

“I don’t think you can put a price on the life of the unborn,” he said.

Heartbeat bills have not succeeded in court in the past, however.

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.

There is more hope that the new conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court may consider an abortion ban, but it is difficult to say if it would for certain. Some legal scholars have speculated that the court would be more likely to consider cases that gradually chip away at Roe v. Wade – such as a dismemberment abortion ban – rather than reverse it completely.