Louisiana is the latest state to introduce legislation banning abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, which typically happens at around six weeks of gestation — a point in which many women don't know they're pregnant.
This year alone, thirteen states have introduced this type of measure, which is also known as a "heartbeat bill." Last month, these bans were signed into law in Kentucky and Mississippi, before being blocked by a court. In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to sign the state's measure in the coming weeks. Reproductive rights advocates say anti-abortion lawmakers hope these bills will bring the legal challenge that will overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
“These bans are very much at the center of Roe v. Wade,” Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, previously told Refinery29. She emphasized anti-abortion lawmakers are relying on the court's conservative majority. “The idea is to kick off a court case and ultimately is to get this before the U.S. Supreme Court with the anticipation that the court is looking to undermine or overturn Roe v. Wade. Conservatives are very eager to get that ball rolling.”
As we've reported before, legislation banning abortion as soon as heartbeat is detected is considered unconstitutional due to the Supreme Court's 1992 decision on Planned Parenthood v. Casey. That case upheld a woman's right to choose an abortion before viability, which researches say happens at around 22 weeks. But that clear precedent has not stopped anti-abortion lawmakers from introducing and considering these bans in places such as Ohio, Tennessee, Missouri, South Carolina, Florida, West Virginia, Maryland, Texas, and Minnesota.