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JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri, January 16, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The Missouri legislature is slated to debate legislation that would protect preborn babies from abortion as soon as their heartbeats can be detected, as part of a national trend toward more comprehensive pro-life laws that protect babies early in pregnancy.

Introduced by state Sen. Andrew Koenig and state Rep. Nick Schroer, H.B. 126 (S.B. 139 in the Senate) requires abortionists to test for a fetal heartbeat prior to abortion. If one can be found, the woman seeking the abortion must be given the opportunity to hear it and the abortion cannot be committed except in cases of “medical emergency.”

Women would not be punishable, but abortionists who don’t perform the test would face six-month suspensions of their medical licenses and a $1,000 fine. Physicians who do test and abort the child anyway would permanently lose their licenses and be barred from applying for a new one.

“While there are different perspectives in the medical community, it is generally accepted that a preborn child's heart starts beating by approximately 22 days after conception, and that the heartbeat can be detected by an early ultrasound exam from 6-8 weeks into the pregnancy,” the Missouri Family Policy Council notes.

That’s much earlier than the current limits defined by Roe v. Wade, but many pro-lifers argue that, in light of President Donald Trump having nominated two justices to the Supreme Court so far, now is the time for state legislatures to enact legislation that would provoke a new U.S. Supreme Court case. If Roe is overturned, Americans would be free for the first time since 1973 to vote directly on every aspect of abortion’s legality.

“It’s true at conception there is a new distinct genetic organism,” Koenig noted last month on social media. “If pro-choice Democrats found this kind of life on Mars they would cherish it.”

The Missouri heartbeat bill follows similar legislation introduced recently in Florida, Kentucky, and South Carolina, and enacted last year in Iowa. With a new, more favorable governor in Mike DeWine, Ohio is expected to try again after its heartbeat bill came one vote short of overcoming a veto by Gov. John Kasich.