Everything Wrong With the Heartbeat Bill

photo credit: flare.com

photo credit: flare.com

Jessica Townsend, Editor

On May 7, Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed a “fetal heartbeat” bill (HB 481) that outlaws abortion after 6 weeks since conception. The new bill states that fetuses will be considered a “class of living distinct person.” Since they are legally people, unborn fetuses will also be included in population counts. This bill will go into effect January 1, 2020.

The term “heartbeat bill,” isn’t entirely accurate. At 6 weeks of development, you can hear a heartbeat in the pea-sized embryo. However, this is not an actual heart, but simply cardiac activity in the fetal pole. In fact, “at six weeks gestation, the ‘heartbeat’ is basically electrical activity in the yolk sac of a still highly undeveloped fetus.” (nbcnews) At this point, the fetus has no organs and cannot survive outside the womb, and yet it’s still considered a living person.

Women who seek abortions past the 6-week mark can be sentenced to a lifetime in prison for murder. Women who do not have abortions, but still miscarry, can be sentenced with 2nd degree murder, which typically imprisons people for 10-30 years. Women who attempt to get a lawful abortion in another state can be charged with “conspiracy to commit murder,” and 10 years in prison. Any individual who helps a woman plan an abortion may also be charged. (slate) It’s worth noting that a rapist would usually get less time in prison than a woman who aborts the child he forced upon her.

It’s also important to note that many women wouldn’t even know that they’re pregnant at this time, since it’s roughly 2 weeks after a missed period. This bill will force women to carry children even if it will kill them. About 303,000 women die in childbirth each year, and this will only increase if they are unable to abort.

Georgia is not the only state implementing this bill. An 11-year-old in Ohio who was recently kidnapped and raped is being forced to carry her child. (mirror) The heartbeat bill has been signed in Georgia, Ohio, Mississippi, and Alabama and is still pending in Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. It it worth noting that the proposed bills in some of these states are not as extreme as Georgia. For example, some would allow abortions in the event that keeping the child would cause serious medical problems for the mother.

Georgia has the 2nd highest maternal mortality rates in the country, and one of the highest infant mortality rates as well. Politicians have refused to expand medicaid, causing hospitals to close in rural areas. Half of Georgia’s counties have no obstetric providers. Unsurprisingly, Ohio is in the same boat.

Young women and women with low incomes will be hit hardest by this bill. (ncbi) President Trumps “gag-rule” could “bar 76,000 low-income Ohioans who get preventive care like birth control through the Title X program from accessing that care at Planned Parenthood health centers.” The Title X program was funded almost 50 years ago to provide affordable birth control to Americans. It has roughly 4 million patients. If the gag-rule comes into pass, doctors will not be allowed to inform women about safe, legal ways to get abortions.

73% of Americans support access to safe abortions, so why are we allowing our representatives to take away that right? For more information, visit Planned Parenthood.