WASHINGTON, D.C., August 2, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – As states across America enact and litigate measures to ban abortion on any baby with a beating heart, legislation introduced in the House of Representatives last week would do the same for the entire country.
Introduced by Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) and co-sponsored by Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), HR 3985 would prohibit abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, and would therefore ban abortion starting at around six to eight weeks. The bill is currently pending before the House Judiciary Committee.
HR 3985’s text has not yet been published, but it appears to be the successor to a bill introduced in January by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), which would do the same thing and apply in all cases except to save a mother’s life from physical threats. While a leading pro-life voice on Capitol Hill, House Republicans stripped King of all his committee assignments in January over a New York Times interview in which his critics claim he defended white supremacism (King says the Times misquoted him).
LifeSiteNews has reached out to Rep. Flores’ office for comment, and will update this report as further details come to light.
Heartbeat legislation bans abortions much earlier than allowed by Roe v. Wade’s current threshold of fetal viability outside the womb. Numerous states including Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, and Ohio have enacted heartbeat laws over the past year, provoking lawsuits from pro-abortion groups.
While some Republican politicians have been wary of incurring the costs of a legal battle they expect to lose, others advocate heartbeat bills specifically as vehicles to provoke challenges they hope will reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
There, pro-lifers hope that President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees will provide a majority to finally overturn Roe, thereby freeing states to decide abortion’s legality at the ballot box instead of in the courtroom. Justice Clarence Thomas is the only confirmed anti-Roe vote on the current court, though most pro-lifers are confident that Justice Samuel Alito would do so as well. The other three right-leaning justices, particularly John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh, have given mixed signals on their likelihood of overturning Roe.
HR 3985 doesn’t stand a chance of passing the current Democrat-controlled House, which has consistently blocked votes on legislation that would merely require abortionists to give basic medical care to infants who are delivered alive after failed abortions, and is unlikely to win the 60 votes necessary under the Senate’s current filibuster rules. But it could be a potent issue going into next year’s elections, which will decide whether Republicans keep the presidency and Senate and retake the House.
In April, pollster Scott Rasmussen released survey results finding that, upon being informed that a “fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy,” 56% of registered voters support a heartbeat abortion ban.