The Heartbeat Bill and Why It Matters

by Courtney Plummer 

A ‘heartbeat bill’ proposes to ban all abortions once a doctor can detect a ‘heartbeat’ in the womb.  This detection usually happens around six weeks of pregnancy, before many women realize they are pregnant. The heartbeat bill has gained considerable momentum in the US as conservative state legislatures are trying to challenge the issue with the Supreme Court and ultimately secure a reversal of Roe V. Wade.  Many state legislatures have passed this bill and are also introducing a ‘trigger bill’, a bill that would automatically ban abortion once federal law is reversed.  

Here is a current but not complete round-up of where the heartbeat bill stands in various states at the time of publication. 

Please write or call you legislatures and governors to voice your opinion on pending and future heartbeat bill legislation.  


Lawmakers have passed and sent a heartbeat bill to Governor Kemp, who plans to sign it May 10.Georgia lawmakers introduced a trigger bill earlier this year and Gov. Brian Kemp backed it. That bill did not advance. 

Kentucky — Gov. Matt Bevin signed a bill March 9 that would make abortion after heartbeat detection a felony, with the exception of when a mother’s life is in danger. A federal judge temporarily blocked the law. Five days later, a judge blocked another Kentucky law that sought to ban abortion for reasons of race, gender and disability. Both laws have been suspended while a federal judge considers lawsuits challenging them. 

Mississippi — Gov. Phil Bryant signed a heartbeat bill on March 21. Last year, a judge blocked a less-restrictive bill that would’ve banned abortion after 15 weeks.

Missouri — On February 27, the state House passed an anti-abortion bill that would ban abortion after a heartbeat is detected and also ban all abortions pending a change in federal law. 

Ohio — The state Senate approved a heartbeat billMarch 13 and it was signed into law current Gov. Mike DeWine April 4.

Tennessee – A heat beat bill passed the state House 7 March.

Other new abortion legislation not directly related to the heartbeat bill. 

Arkansas — Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed two anti-abortion bills this year. On February 19, he signed a bill legislation that would outlaw abortion if Roe v. Wade is reversed. The other bill, which bans abortion after 18 weeks, was signed on March 15.

New York —  On January 22, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law that codifies Roe v. Wade into state law, which would allow abortions to remain legal even if the court decision is overturned. Late-term abortions are now legal if a mother’s life is threatened or the fetus is not viable. The law also allows health care professionals such as nurse practitioners or physician assistants to perform abortions.

Oklahoma — The state Senate approved a bill on March 14 that proposes a constitutional amendment ballot issue that would allow voters to indicate that the state constitution does not protect the right to an abortion. 

Vermont — The state House passed a bill on February 21 that would declare a right to abortions without restrictions.

**Suggested reading.

Protect X: Why the Title X Gag Rule Is Our Next Big Fight

The Trump-Pence administration just issued a “gag rule” — one of the most dangerous and unconscionable attacks on our health and rights we’ve seen yet. It dismantles the Title X program — founded nearly 50 years ago to provide affordable birth control and reproductive health care for millions of Americans.

Click here to learn how you can take action:

One Comment on “The Heartbeat Bill and Why It Matters

  1. Thank you for this excellent summary of these concerted attacks on women’s reproductive freedom! It is frightening to see how the Republican party has been taken over by this concerted, right-wing campaign so now is the time to fight back!


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