A group of Alabama lawmakers introduced a Texas-style heartbeat bill Tuesday to protect unborn babies from abortion once their heartbeat is detectable.
The legislation would ban abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy, as well as any abortion performed without first checking for a heartbeat. Exceptions would be allowed for medical emergencies.
“A fetal heartbeat has become a key medical predictor that an unborn child will reach live birth,” the bill states. “This state has compelling interests from the outset of a woman’s pregnancy in protecting the health of the woman and the life of the unborn child.”
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Like the Texas law, the Alabama bill also includes a private cause of action that allows individuals to sue abortionists who abort unborn babies and those who aid and abet in abortions in violation of the law.
State Rep. Jamie Kiel, R-Russellville, is the main sponsor, and 22 other Republican lawmakers joined him in pre-filing the bill in the state House, according to the report.
The lawmakers believe the bill is more likely to withstand a legal challenge and save babies’ lives because of the private enforcement provision. It is because of this unique provision that the Texas law currently is in effect, saving thousands of babies’ lives.
However, some pro-life leaders in the state expressed skepticism about the bill, saying it might be struck down in court and not actually save any lives. Eric Johnston, attorney for the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition, called it “premature” in an interview with AL.com.
“It’s premature for the Alabama Legislature to file a similar law to the one that’s being litigated now when we don’t know the outcome,” Johnston said. “It may sound good, but we don’t know right now that it’ll be any good. It’s a waste of everybody’s time.”
If the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Texas law, Johnson told the news outlet that he would support such legislation in Alabama. His organization supported a 2019 state law that bans all abortions in Alabama; however, the law cannot be enforced because of Roe v. Wade.
Currently, the Supreme Court forces states to legalize abortion on demand under Roe v. Wade. States that want to protect unborn babies may only do so once they reach the point of viability, currently about 22 weeks.
The Texas situation is unique. It is the first state to be allowed to enforce an early abortion ban and only because of the private enforcement mechanism. In November, the Supreme Court considered the Biden administration’s request to temporarily block the law, but it has not ruled yet.
The Supreme Court also is considering a Mississippi challenge to Roe v. Wade, one that could allow states to protect unborn babies again or, at the very least, allow states to enact more limits on abortion, such as an abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
If the court grants Mississippi’s request, laws like Alabama’s and Mississippi’s would go into effect and hundreds of thousands of babies would be protected from violent abortion deaths every year across America.
The Supreme Court is expected to publish its ruling on the Mississippi case sometime next year, potentially June 2022.