In January, the GOP introduced H.R. 490: Heartbeat Protection Act of 2017, a bill that would ban abortion "in cases where a fetal heartbeat is detectable." Today it was announced that a judiciary committee will hold on a hearing on November 1. As NARAL Pro-Choice America States Communications Director James Owens points out, the bill would ban abortion at six weeks, which is before many women find out they're pregnant.
Sponsored by Representative Steve King of Iowa, the proposed bill makes it a crime for a physician to knowingly perform an abortion without determining "whether the fetus has a detectable heartbeat," "without informing the mother of the results," or "after determining that a fetus has a detectable heartbeat."
The sole exception is if an abortion is medically necessary in order to save the life of a woman with a physical illness or disorder. There are no exceptions for women with psychological or emotional conditions. If the bill passes, a physician who doesn't comply will face a fine, up to five years in prison, or both.
"Since Roe v. Wade was unconstitutionally decided in 1973, nearly 60 million innocent babies’ lives have been ended by the abortion industry, all with a rubber stamp by the federal government," King said in a January press release. "If a heartbeat is detected, the baby is protected."
H.R. 490 is similar to Ohio’s "heartbeat bill," which failed when Governor John Kasich vetoed the portion that would ban abortion at 6 weeks. Although it's unlikely that H.R. 490 will pass in the House and Senate, the introduction of such extreme legislation indicates that we'll continue to see federal attacks on Roe v. Wade under the current administration.