A Kentucky Senate committee approved a bill Thursday to ban abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable after hearing the heartbeat of a baby in its mother’s womb.
Sponsored by state Sen. Matt Castlen, the bill would require abortionists to check if an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable before performing an abortion; if the baby does have a heartbeat, the abortion would be prohibited. Exceptions would be allowed for medical emergencies.
An unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable at about six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant, and abortion activists admit that heartbeat laws would ban basically all abortions.
The Courier-Journal reports the committee hearing was crowded with pro-life advocates and abortion activists, several of whom testified before the vote.
April Lanham, of Phillpot, allowed lawmakers to hear a live scan of her unborn baby’s heartbeat through a microphone – a moment that even the AP described as “powerful.”
“Every life matters,” the expecting mother said. She is 18 weeks pregnant.
Castlen urged lawmakers to pass his bill after Lanham’s testimony. “What you’re hearing is a child’s heartbeat,” he said. “It’s telling us it’s alive.”
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However, abortion activists with the ACLU and other groups also testified against the bill.
Kate Miller, of the ACLU of Kentucky, threatened to file a lawsuit against the state if the bill passes.
“Each of you took an oath to uphold the Constitution,” Miller said. “This law is patently unconstitutional. The second it is signed, the ACLU of Kentucky will file a lawsuit. And much like the other laws you have passed, we expect that you will be held up in litigation unsuccessfully for years.”
However, challenging the so-called constitutional “right” to abortion often is the very intention of these bills. Pro-life lawmakers have introduced a number of heartbeat bills this winter, hoping for a victory with the new conservative majority U.S. Supreme Court. Similar bills are being considered in Florida, Mississippi, Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee.
The goal of the legislation is to prevent the deaths of thousands of unborn babies every year and potentially lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. However, even some pro-life advocates admit that the success of the legislation is uncertain. North Dakota and Arkansas passed heartbeat bills several years ago, but federal courts struck down both laws. In January, a judge declared Iowa’s heartbeat law unconstitutional.
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said the following about its ruling on the six-week abortion 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.”
When courts rule against such laws, state taxpayers often are forced to reimburse pro-abortion groups for their legal fees.
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 – especially after Chief Justice John Roberts recently sided with the liberal justices on an abortion case.