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Baby on heart concept linear design vector. Heart beat graph of a pregnant woman.

Ban Abortions from the Very First Heartbeat

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Quick Q&A

Q: What is heartbeat legislation? A: Heartbeat legislation is a colloquial term for legislative bills which would protect the unborn from abortion after the unborn human has a detectable heartbeat. To date, all heartbeat legislation has been introduced and fought at the state level. Q: Would these bills put women in jail? A: No, all heartbeat bills which have been proposed penalize the abortionist, not the woman. The proposed penalties vary depending on whether the doctor failed to check for a heartbeat, or found a heartbeat and still performed the abortion. The proposed penalties also vary by state: some suggested the revocation of a medical license, while others gave fines for violations. Some heartbeat bills even included provisions so that a woman upon whom an abortion was performed could, in some circumstances, file a civil action suit for the wrongful death of her child.  

Biology and Development

  • The cardiovascular system is the first major system to function in a human embryo.
  • The heart and vascular system appear in the middle of the third week; the heart begins to beat about 23/24 days after fertilization.
  • The heart starts to form into atriums and ventricles during the middle of the 4th week; these are completed in the eighth week after fertilization.
  • When the heart is new (during the third week after fertilization) the circulation in the heart is ebb-and-flow.
  • By the fourth week, the heart has coordinated contractions and blood flow in and out of the heart is one-directional.

 

Definitions*

Fertilization: The moment at which the sperm and egg meet (aka: conception). This can occur between 5 minutes to 5 days after intercourse. All 46 chromosomes are present at this moment—23 from mum and 23 from dad. The child’s gender, eye color, hair color and many other things are already decided. All that is needed is time for the child to grow. Zygote: A highly specialized totipotent cell which is formed when the male sperm unites with a female gamete and which marks the beginning of human development. Embryo: The developing human during its early stages of development. The embryonic period extends to the end of the eighth week (56 days), by which time the beginnings of all major structures are present. Fetus (Medical): Unborn offspring. After the embryonic period (8 weeks) and until birth, the developing human is called a fetus. During the fetal period (ninth week to birth), differentiation and growth of the tissues and organs formed during the embryonic period occur. Fetus (Legislative): In the text of heartbeat legislation, the term "fetus" is commonly defined as "the human offspring developing during pregnancy from the moment of conception and includes the embryonic stage of development." [emphasis added.] Atrium: A chamber of the heart that receives blood from the veins and forces it into a ventricle or ventricles. Ventricle: A chamber of the heart which receives blood from a corresponding atrium and from which blood is forced into the arteries. Vein: Any of the tubular branching vessels that carry blood toward the heart. Artery: Any of the tubular branching muscular- and elastic-walled vessels that carry blood away from the heart and through the body. Fetal Heartbeat: Cardiac activity, the steady and repetitive rhythmic contraction of the fetal heart within the gestational sac.

*Medical definitions are taken from the 8th edition of The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryolgy, by Keith Moore and T.V.N. Persuad, and the online Merriam Medical Dictionary.

Heartbeat Legislation by State

Alabama

Heartbeat bills have been introduced in the Alabama Legislature almost every year since 2014. To date, no heartbeat bill has yet passed either the Alabama House of Representatives or the Senate. The following is a list of heartbeat bills that have been introduced in the Alabama Legislature:

HB 490 (Full text)

  • First reading in House February 13, 2014
  • Referred same day to House Committee on Health
  • Passed House vote 73-29, March 4, 2014
  • First reading in Senate March 18, 2014
  • Died in the Senate

HB 405 (Full text)

  • First reading in House April 2, 2015
  • Referred same day to House Committee on Health
  • Died in the House

SB 9 (Full text)

  • First reading in Senate February 2, 2016
  • Referred same day to Senate Committee on Health and Human Services
  • Died in the Senate

HB 21 (Full text)

  • First reading in House February 2, 2016
  • Referred same day to House Committee on Health
  • Died in the House

HB 154 (Full text)

  • First reading in House February 9, 2017
  • Referred same day to House Committee on Health
  • Died in the House

Arkansas

Arkansas was the first state in the U.S. to pass into law a bill banning abortion from the moment a heartbeat can be detected. On March 6, 2013, SB 134, the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act (Act 301), became law after both the Arkansas House and Senate voted to override the veto of then-Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe.

Act 301 was quickly challenged in federal court. A federal judge ultimately struck down the portion of the bill prohibiting abortions when fetal heartbeat was detected while another portion of the Act, requiring testing for a heartbeat and informing the mother when a heartbeat was detected, was left intact.

Then-Arkansas Attorney General (now Arkansas Governor) Leslie Rutledge filed an appeal with the United States Supreme Court, who declined to hear the case, effectively ensuring that the lower court’s decision would remain permanent.

A brief synopsis of the history of Act 301 (SB 134) is provided below:

  • Introduced in Senate January 28, 2013 and referred to the Committee on Public Health, Welfare, and Labor
  • On January 30, 2013, SB 134 was amended on a second reading and passed by the Committee on Public Health, Welfare, and Labor
  • SB 134 passed the Senate and delivered to House on January 31, 2013
  • On February 13, the House amended SB 134 and referred to the House Committee on Public Health, Welfare, and Labor
  • On February 21, the House passed SB 134 and returned the bill as amended to the Senate for reconsideration
  • On February 25, SB 134 was re-referred to the Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare, and Labor
  • On February 27, the Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare, and Labor approved of the House bill as amended
  • On February 28, 2013, the Senate passed SB 134 as amended by the House, sending the bill to the desk of Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe for signature
  • On March 4, 2013, Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe vetoed the bill
  • The Arkansas Senate voted to override the Governor’s veto of SB 134 on March 5, 2013
  • On March 6, 2013, the House also voted to override the Governor’s veto of SB 134. SB 134 was transmitted to the Secretary of State and became law as Act 301.
  • The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas struck down fetal heartbeat abortion ban on March 14, 2013
  • The District Court held a hearing on May 17, 2013, following parties’ responses to ruling
  • On May 23rd, the District Court affirmed its ruling, leading the state to appeal its case to the United States Court of Appeal for the Eighth Circuit
  • On May 27, 2013, United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit permanently struck down Act as unconstitutional

Florida

Florida’s first heartbeat bill was prefiled for the 2019 legislative session by State Rep. Mike Hill (1st Dist.).

  • HB 235 pre-filed in the House of Representatives on January 10, 2019.

Georgia

On February 25, 2019, Georgia’s first heartbeat bill (HB 481) was introduced in the House of Representatives. On February 27th, the Senate version of the bill (SB 218) was introduced in the Senate and referred to the Judiciary Committee.

HB 481 was approved by the House Health and Human Services Committee on March 7, 2019 on a party-line vote of 17-14. The full House of Representatives passed the bill the same day on a vote of 93-73. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has vowed to support heartbeat bills that ban abortion after 6 weeks.

  • On February 25, 2019, Georgia’s first heartbeat bill (HB 481) is introduced in the House and referred to the Committee on Health & Human Services.
  • On March 7, 2019, the House passes HB 481 on a vote of 93-73.
  • The HB 481 was referred to Senate Science and Technology Committee on March 8th.

Indiana

At the start of the 2016 Session, as PRI then reported, a heartbeat bill, authored by Indiana State Senators Jim Banks and Scott Schneider, was introduced in the state Senate. A companion bill, authored by representative Curt Nisly, was introduced in the Indiana House of Representatives.

  • SB 144 (Full text) introduced January 5, 2016. Referred same day to Committee on Health & Provider Services; died in Committee.
  • HB 1122 (Full text) introduced January 7, 2016. Referred same day to Committee on Public Policy; died in Committee.

Iowa

On May 4, 2018, Iowa became the 3rd state to pass heartbeat legislation into law. Iowa’s heartbeat law (SF 359) amends the Iowa Code to ban abortions from the moment a heartbeat can be detected via abdominal ultrasound, except in cases of “a medical emergency or when the abortion is medically necessary.” SF 359 was passed by the Iowa House of Representatives on May 1, 2018 (vote tally: 51-46) and passed by the Iowa Senate on May 2nd (vote tally: 29-17). Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed SF 359 into law on May 4, 2018.

Iowa’s heartbeat law is currently not in effect due to ongoing lawsuits filed by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the Emma Goldman Clinic. The plaintiffs are being represented by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Shuttleworth & Ingersoll, respectively. Planned Parenthood is challenging Iowa’s heartbeat law as unconstitutional under the Iowa Constitution, a maneuver which could prevent the case from being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, as the U.S. Supreme Court is not able to review decisions dealing with constitutional questions concerning state constitutions. The State of Iowa is currently being represented by the Thomas More Society after Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller refused to defend Iowa’s heartbeat law in court.

On June 1, 2018, Polk County District Court Judge Michael Huppert placed a temporary injunction on Iowa’s heartbeat law, pending a final ruling by the court to be decided on the merits of the case. The Iowa heartbeat law was slated to go into effect on July 1, 2018.

Here is a brief legislative history of SF 359 (Full text):

  • Introduced as SF 52 by Brad Zaun January 11, 2017; referred to Human Resources.
  • Subcommittee (Chapman, Quirmbach, and Segebart) formed January 13th; recommended passage February 7th.
  • Introduced as SF 359 on February 27, 2017 and approved by the Senate Human Resources Committee
  • Passed Senate 43-6 on March 22, 2017; received by House.
  • On March 23, 2017, bill referred to House Human Resources Committee.
  • A subcommittee (Lundgren, Salmon, and Wessel-Kroeschell) formed on March 14, 2018, which recommends that the bill be amended and passed.
  • Seven amendments filed through April 30, 2018. Of these, only H-8269 adopted, eliminating exceptions to heartbeat law for abortions and procedures to save the life of the mother. Adopted May 1, 2018.
  • SF 359 passed House (51-46) on May 1, 2018.
  • SF 359 passed Senate (29-17) on May 2, 2018.
  • On May 4, 2018, SF 359 signed by Governor Kim Reynolds.
  • Polk County District Court Judge Michael Huppert placed a temporary injunction on the bill on June 1, 2018.

Kansas

A Kansas heartbeat bill, HB 2324 (Full text), was introduced and referred to the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs on February 13, 2013. The bill died in the Committee.

Kentucky

In Kentucky, several heartbeat bills have been introduced in the General Assembly.

In 2013 and 2014, the House of Representatives twice introduced heartbeat bill HB 132. Both bills ended up dying in committee.

On December 13, 2018, State Rep. Robert Goforth (89th Dist.) prefiled a heartbeat bill (BR 823) in the House for the 2019 legislative session but the General Assembly opted to use a Senate version instead.

On January 8, 2019, the Kentucky Senate introduced heartbeat bill SB 9 and the House introduced a companion heartbeat bill (HB 100) as well. On February 14th, the Senate passed SB 9 on a vote of 31-6. On March 14th, the House of Representatives also passed SB 9 on a vote of 71-19. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed the Kentucky heartbeat bill into law on March 15, 2019. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky immediately placed a 14-day hold on the law, preventing the law from going into effect, pending a hearing.

  • 2013 bill (Full text, Microsoft Word document download) introduced January 11, 2013.
  • Bill referred to House Committee on Health & Welfare February 5, 2013; died in Committee.
  • HB 132 (Full text, Microsoft Word document download) is introduced on January 7, 2014.
  • HB 132 was referred to House Committee on Health & Welfare January 8, 2014; died in Committee.
  • On December 13, 2018, BR 823 prefiled in the Kentucky House of Representatives.
  • On January 8, 2019, SB 9 referred to Senate Committee for Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection;
  • On February 14, 2019, the Senate passed SB 9 (31-6). The bill was referred to House Committee for Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection on February 19th.
  • On March 14, 2019, the House passes SB 9 (71-19).
  • On March 15, 2019, Gov. Matt Bevin signs SB 9 into law. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky places a temporary hold on the law, preventing the law from going into effect.

Michigan

A Michigan heartbeat bill, HB 5644 (Full text), was introduced in the House by Representative Tom Hooker on June 10, 2014. HB 5644 was referred to the Committee on Health Policy the same day.

Minnesota

Two Minnesota heartbeat bills were introduced in the 2018 legislative session. Both bills were introduced after Committee deadlines and could not be considered in the 2017-2018 legislative session.

  • HF 4524 (Full text) introduced May 17, 2018, and referred same day to House Committee on Health and Human Services Reform.
  • SF 4109 (Full text) introduced May 19, 2018, and referred same day to Senate Committee on Health and Human Services Finance and Policy.

Mississippi

Several heartbeat bills have been introduced in Mississippi since 2013.

In the 2019 legislative session, heartbeat bills were introduced in both the Mississippi House and Senate. The House bill, HB 732, was introduced and referred to the Committee on Public Health and Welfare on January 17, 2019. HB 732 passed the House on February 13th but was later rejected by the Senate in favor of the Senate’s own heartbeat bill (SB 2116). Two other heartbeat bills, HB 529 and SB 2688, were also tabled in favor of other bills.

SB 2116 was introduced in the Senate on January 11, 2019 and referred to the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee. On February 13th, the Senate passed SB 2116 on a vote of 34-14. On March 11th, the House also passed SB 2116 with amendments. The House and Senate must work out some minor differences between the versions of SB 2116 passed by the House and the Senate before the bill can be sent to Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant. Gov. Bryant has said that he will sign the bill into law.

  • HB 6 (Full text) referred to House Judiciary Committee B on January 8, 2013; the bill died in Committee.
  • SB 2807 (Full text) referred to Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on January 20, 2014; died in Committee.
  • HB 1198 (Full text) referred to House Public Health and Human Services Committee and House Judiciary Committee B on January 16, 2017; died in Committee.
  • HB 226 (Full text) referred to House Judiciary Committee B on January 2, 2018; died in Committee.
  • SB 2058 (Full text) referred to Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee A on January 3, 2018; died in Committee.
  • SB 2143 (Full text) referred to Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee A on January 9, 2018; died in Committee.
  • HB 1509 (Full text) referred to House Judiciary Committee B on January 15, 2018; died in Committee.
  • HB 1481 (Full text) referred to House Medicaid Committee on January 15, 2018; died in Committee.
  • SB 2562 (Full text) referred to Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee B on January 16, 2018; died in Committee.
  • SB 2584 (Full text) referred to Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee A on January 16, 2018; died in Committee.
  • HB 732 (Full text) referred to House Public Health and Human Services Committee on January 17, 2019; passed by House on February 13, 2019. Referred to Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on February 27, 2019; HB 732 tabled in favor of the Senate’s version of the heartbeat bill SB 2116.
  • SB 2116 (Full text) referred to Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on January 11, 2019; SB 2116 passes the Senate on February 13, 2019. Bill referred to the House Public Health and Human Services Committee on February 20, 2019. On March 11, the House passes SB 2116 with amendments and returned to the Senate for concurrence.

Missouri

A number of heartbeat bills have been introduced in the Missouri General Assembly since 2017.

During the 2019 legislative session, three separate heartbeat bills were introduced in the House of Representatives: HB 126, introduced by Rep. Nick Schroer (107th District), HB 870, introduced by Rep. David Gregory (96th District), and HB 964, by Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman (97th District). HB 126 was passed by the Committee on Children and Families on February 19th, the Committee on Rules on February 21st, and the Committee on Fiscal Review on February 27th. The full House voted to pass HB 126 on February 27th. Missouri Governor Mike Parson has indicated his support for bipartisan efforts in the House to pass pro-life legislation in the 2019 legislative session.

On December 1, 2018, heartbeat bill SB 139 was prefiled in the Senate with Sen. Andrew Koenig (15th District) as the bill’s sponsor. On March 13th, SB 139 was incorporated into SB 279 and merged with two other pro-life bills: SB 279 (banning abortion after 22 weeks) and SB 345 (guaranteeing the right to life for the unborn). SB 279 was passed by the Senate Health and Pensions Committee on March 13, 2019.

  • SB 408 (Full text) first read February 9, 2017.
  • SB 408 referred to Senate Seniors, Families and Children Committee February 13, 2017; died in Committee.
  • SB 714 (Full text), a bill identical to SB 408, was pre-filed December 1, 2017, and first read January 3, 2018.
  • SB 714 was referred to the Senate Seniors, Families and Children Committee on January 16, 2018; died in Committee.
  • On January 9, 2019, the Senate introduced SB 139 and referred it to the Senate Health and Pensions Committee on January 24th.
  • On January 9, 2019, HB 126 was introduced in the House; referred to the House Children and Families Committee on January 30th.
  • On February 19, 2019, HB 126 passed the House Children and Families Committee with a 9-4 vote.
  • On February 27, 2019, the House of Representatives passed HB 126 by a margin of 117-39.
  • On March 13, SB 139 was incorporated into SB 279 and merged with two other pro-life bills: SB 279 and SB 345.

New York

Three heartbeat bills have been introduced in the New York State Assembly:

  • A08947 (Full text) introduced March 4, 2014, and referred same day to Committee on Health; died in Committee.
  • A03725 (Full text) introduced January 27, 2015, and referred same day to Committee on Health. Referred again January 6, 2016; died in Committee.
  • A05384 (Full text) introduced February 8, 2017, and referred same day to Committee on Health. Referred again January 3, 2018; died in Committee.

North Dakota

The North Dakota bill, HB 1456 (Full text), was introduced in January 2013. The bill passed the North Dakota House in February 2013. The bill passed the North Dakota Senate the following month in March. North Dakota’s heartbeat bill was signed into law by then-Governor Jack Dalrymple on March 26, 2013.

Before the law could go into effect, Red River Women’s Clinic, represented by MKB Management Corp., sued to overturn the law in MKB Management Corp. v. Stenehjem. North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem argued the case in favor of the state’s heartbeat law. Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota Daniel L. Hovland placed a temporary injunction blocking North Dakota’s heartbeat law from going into effect. On April 16, 2014, Chief Judge Hovland found North Dakota’s heartbeat law to be unconstitutional.

The State of North Dakota appealed the decision to U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals which on July 22, 2015 affirmed the District Court’s ruling. In its decision, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, defended the North Dakota heartbeat law, arguing that the moment a heartbeat can be detected is the point in pregnancy that the state legislature has asserted that it has an interest in protecting “potential life” (language borrowed from Roe v. Wade). The Eighth Circuit Court argued, citing Edwards v. Beck, 786 F.3d 1113, 1119 (8th Cir. 2015), that “[t]o substitute its own preference to that of the legislature in this area is not the proper role of a court.” Nevertheless, the Eighth Circuit Court struck down North Dakota’s heartbeat law anyway “[b]ecause United States Supreme Court precedent does not permit us to reach a contrary result.”

On November 10, 2015, Attorney General Stenehjem filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States to review the decision from Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Attorney General Stenehjem and his staff agreed to argue the case before the Supreme Court pro bono, and any further work on the case will not cost taxpayers anything. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, refused to review the case on January 25, 2016, leaving the Eighth Circuit Court’s ruling in place.

Ohio

Pro-life lawmakers in the Ohio state legislature have tried to pass heartbeat legislation since 2011. While Ohio has yet to pass a heartbeat bill into law, pro-life lawmakers have grown closer to their goal with each legislative term.

On February 12, 2019, the Ohio Senate introduced SB 23, a heartbeat bill for the 2019 legislative session. A heartbeat bill (HB 68) was also introduced in the House the same day.

On March 13, 2019, the Senate passed SB 23 on a 19-13 vote. The bill was subsequently introduced in the Ohio House the following day.

The Ohio House and Senate had passed heartbeat bills both in 2016 and 2018, however both bills were vetoed by then-Governor John Kasich. Current Ohio Governor Mark DeWine pledged during his campaign to sign a heartbeat bill into law.

Ohio’s first heartbeat bill, HB 125, was introduced in the 129th General Assembly in the state House of Representatives back in 2011. HB 125 passed the House but was not adopted by the Senate.

During the 130th General Assembly, heartbeat bills were introduced in both the House (HB 248) and the Senate (SB 297). HB 248 passed the Ohio House Committee on Health and Ageing on November 20, 2014 but failed to pass a vote by the full House.

During the 131st General Assembly, the House introduced multiple heartbeat bills (HB 69, HB 493). On March 25, 2015, the House passed HB 69 but the Senate failed to adopt the measure. Heartbeat language was added by the Senate as an amendment to a bill reforming the state’s child abuse and neglect reporting laws (HB 493) on December 6, 2016. On the same day, the House approved of the Senate’s amendment to include the heartbeat bill as part of HB 493, making HB 493 the first heartbeat bill to pass both chambers of the Ohio state legislature. As PRI reported in 2016, HB 493 was subsequently sent to the desk of Ohio Governor John Kasich for signature. In a controversial move, Governor Kasich vetoed the heartbeat bill, arguing that heartbeat laws in both Arkansas and North Dakota had already been declared unconstitutional by federal courts and because Ohio, as a likely loosing party in a lawsuit, would “be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to cover the legal fees of pro-choice activists’ lawyers” and would “invit[e] additional challenges to Ohio’s strong legal protections for unborn life.” However, with two new Trump-era appointees on the U.S. Supreme Court, many believe the balance of the Supreme Court has shifted, opening the possibility that the Supreme Court may uphold heartbeat laws if presented with the opportunity to decide on their constitutionality.

On June 6, 2017, Ohio State Representatives Christina Hagan (Dist. 50) and Ron Hood (Dist. 78) introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives another heartbeat bill, HB 258. On November 15, 2018, the House passed HB 258 with a bipartisan veto-proof majority (60 votes in favor, 35 against). The Ohio Senate went on to pass the bill as well on December 12, 2018 with a vote tally of 18-13, falling short of the margin necessary to override a veto. The Senate’s version of the bill added two new amendments to HB 258. The amended bill was sent back to the House of Representatives for a final vote, and the House concurred with the amendments. Ohio Governor Kasich, however, vetoed the bill on December 21, 2018.

Below is a brief timeline of heartbeat legislation in Ohio:

  • On June 28, 2011, the Ohio House of Representatives passed HB 125, the state’s first heartbeat bill
  • On August 21, 2013, heartbeat bill HB 248 was introduced in the House but failed to pass when the House voted on the bill on December 10, 2014.
  • Senator Kris Jordan introduced a heartbeat bill, SB 297, in the Senate on March 13, 2014 but the bill was not passed
  • On February 17, 2015, the Ohio House reintroduced heartbeat legislation with HB 69
  • On February 19, HB 69 was referred to committee
  • The House of Representatives passed HB 69 on March 25, 2015, with 55 votes in favor and 40 votes against
  • On March 26, 2015, the Senate considered HB 69 but no further action on the bill was taken
  • On December 6, 2016, the Senate added heartbeat bill language as an amendment to HB 493, a bill reforming the state’s child abuse and neglect reporting laws that had already passed the House earlier that year; the House approved HB 493 with the amended language the same day, sending HB 493 to the desk of Ohio Governor John Kasich for signature
  • On December 13, 2016, Governor Kasich used a line-item veto to strike the heartbeat bill language from HB 493
  • On June 6, 2017, a heartbeat bill (HB 258) sponsored by Representatives Hagan and Hood was introduced in the House of Representatives
  • On September 12, 2017, HB 258 was referred to the House Committee on Health
  • On December 13, 2017, HB 258 was passed out of committee
  • On November 15, 2018, the House passed HB 258 with a bi-partisan veto-proof majority (60 votes for, 35 against)
  • On November 19, 2018, HB 258 was introduced to the Ohio Senate
  • On November 28, 2018, HB 258 was referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee
  • Ohio Senate passed HB 258 by a margin of 18-13 on December 12, 2018; Ohio Governor John Kasich subsequently vetoed the bill the same day
  • On February 12, 2019, heartbeat bill SB 23 was introduced in the Ohio Senate
  • On March 12, 2019, SB 23 was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services, and Medicaid Committee by a vote of 8-4.
  • On March 13, 2019, the Ohio Senate passed SB 23 by a margin of 19-13 on; the bill was subsequently introduced in the House the following day

Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, three heartbeat bills have been introduced in the Senate, none of which have passed:

  • SB 606 (Full text) was introduced February 2, 2015. SB 606 was referred to the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee upon second reading on February 3, 2015. The bill died in Committee.
  • SB 1118 (Full text) was introduced February 1, 2016. SB 1118 was referred to the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee upon second reading on February 2, 2016. Committee reported “Do Pass” on the bill on February 22, 2016. SB 1118 died in Chamber.
  • SB 710 (Full text) was introduced February 6, 2017. SB 710 was referred to the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee upon second reading, February 7, 2017. On February 28, 2017, the bill was withdrawn from the Health and Human Resources Committee and re-referred to the Senate Rules Committee.

Pennsylvania

HB 2315 (Full text) was introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on May 2, 2018. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee on the same day, where it remains pending.

Rhode Island

Pro-life lawmakers in the Rhode Island House of Representatives have introduced a heartbeat bill in every legislative session since 2014. The bill is titled “House Resolution Recognizing the Fetus as a Human Life Upon the Existence of a Heartbeat” and is authored by pro-life Rhode Island State Representative James McLaughlin, who is annually joined by several other pro-life lawmakers in the House, including Reps. Nardolillo, Fellela, Corvese, Perez, and others. No heartbeat bill has yet passed the Rhode Island House.

  • H 7330 (Full text) was introduced on February 6, 2014. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee on March 5th. On March 11th, the Committee recommended holding the bill for further consideration.
  • H 5153 (Full text), a slightly modified bill from H 7330, was introduced on January 21, 2015. The bill was referred the same day to the House Judiciary Committee.
  • H 7170 (Full text), a bill slightly modified again from H 5153, was introduced on January 14, 2016, and referred the same day to House Judiciary Committee. On March 29th, the Committee recommended holding the bill for further consideration.
  • H 5399 (Full text) was introduced February 3, 2017, and referred the same day to the House Judiciary Committee. On March 29th, the Committee recommended holding the bill for further consideration.
  • H 7180 (Full text) was introduced January 17, 2018, and referred the same day to the House Judiciary Committee. On April 10th, the Committee recommended holding the bill for further consideration.

South Carolina

The “South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat Protection from Abortion Act” has been introduced in the South Carolina General Assembly every year since 2013.

  • S 623 (Full text), was introduced in the South Carolina Senate on April 16, 2013. On December 3, 2014, S 96 (Full text), was introduced in the Senate, a bill which would have prohibited abortions after detection of a fetal heartbeat only after the twelfth week of pregnancy. Both S 623 and S 96 were referred to the Committee on Medical Affairs and died there.
  • On May 9, 2018, HB 5403  was introduced in the House of Representatives, a bill which would prohibit all abortions from the moment a fetal heartbeat is detected. Bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee; died in Committee.
  • On January 8, 2019, H 3020 was introduced in the House of Representatives and referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

Tennessee

Heartbeat bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate of the Tennessee General Assembly every year since 2017. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has indicated that he will support heartbeat legislation should a bill pass through the House and Senate.

On January 23, 2019, heartbeat bill HB 77 was introduced in the House of Representatives. A companion bill, SB 1236, was also introduced to the Senate on February 7, 2019 and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

HB 77 was passed by the House with amendments on March 7, 2019, by a margin of 65-21. The amendments added to HB 77 did not compromise or lessen the restrictions in the bill. HB 77 was introduced to the Senate on March 11, 2019.

HB 77 and SB 1236 are similar to bills introduced in 2018 and 2017. On January 26, 2017, Tennessee State Rep. James Van Huss (Jonesborough) introduced HB0108, the Tennessee heartbeat bill, in the Tennessee House of Representatives. On January 31, 2017, Tennessee State Sen. Mae Beavers (Mt. Juliet) introduced a companion bill, SB0244, in the Senate. The bills were reintroduced during the 2018 session as HB1892 and SB1961, both of which died in committee.

The original heartbeat bill, HB0108, would have banned all abortion in Tennessee from the moment a heartbeat could be detected via abdominal ultrasound, except in cases of a medical emergency that would threaten the life of the mother or that would risk “substantial and irreversible impairment of a bodily function.”

However, a written opinion issued by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery warned the Tennessee General Assembly that the heartbeat bills proposed by the House and Senate may not have withstood constitutional scrutiny. Attorney General Slatery however said that the bills’ provisions requiring doctors to perform an ultrasound prior to an abortion procedure may be constitutionally valid.

The bill was also opposed by some pro-lifers, including Tennessee Right to Life, out of fear that HB0108 would have given the U.S. Supreme Court, which at that time had a pro-abortion majority, an opportunity to strengthen Roe v. Wade by declaring heartbeat laws unconstitutional.

As a result, the provisions banning abortion from the moment a heartbeat can be detected was stripped from HB0108 through an amendment added to the bill on February 12, 2018. As such, the new amended version of HB0108 ceased to become a heartbeat bill.

In its place, provisions were added requiring doctors to offer women the opportunity to know the results of an ultrasound prior to undergoing an abortion. However, nothing in the new amended HB0108 requires abortionists to perform an ultrasound in the first place. Abortionists are only required to offer women undergoing abortion the results of an ultrasound if they choose to perform the test. The newly amended HB0108 later passed both the House and the Senate and was later signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam, but because the heartbeat language was taken out of the bill, the law is not a heartbeat law.

  • HB0108 (Full text) introduced on January 26, 2017. Referred to Health Committee February 1st, and Health Subcommittee February 15th.
  • SB0244 (Full text) introduced on January 31, 2017. Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee February 2nd.
  • HB0108 placed again on House Health Subcommittee calendar January 10, 2018.
  • HB1892 (Full text), a bill identical to HB0108, was introduced in the House on January 25, 2018. The bill was referred to the Health Committee January 31st, and the Health Subcommittee the same day, and died in committee.
  • SB1961 (Full text) was introduced on January 29, 2018. The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 1st; died in committee.
  • On January 31, 2018, the House Health Subcommittee recommended HB0108 for passage if amended and the bill was referred to the full House Health Committee
  • On February 6, 2018, the House Health Committee recommended HB0108 for passage if amended and referred the bill to the Calendar and Rules Committee
  • On February 12, 2018, the Tennessee House of Representatives amended HB0108 with Amendment 1 (HA0672), stripping the bill of provisions which would have banned abortion from the moment a heartbeat can be detected. HB0108 ceased to be a heartbeat bill.
  • On January 23, 2019, HB 77 was introduced in the House.
  • On February 7, 2019, SB 1236 introduced to the Senate; referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 11th.
  • On February 26, 2019, HB 77 was approved by the House Health Committee with a vote of 15-4.
  • On March 7, 2019, an amended version of HB 77 passed the House by a margin of 65-21.

Texas

A fetal heartbeat bill, HB 59 (Full text), was introduced in the Texas House or Representatives on July 18, 2013. The bill was filed in the House but was never referred to a committee for consideration.

West Virginia

In West Virginia, two heartbeat bills have been introduced in the state legislature during the 2019 legislative session. On February 7, 2019, heartbeat bill HB 2903 was introduced in the House of Delegates with Ralph Rodighiero (D - 24th District) as the bill’s lead sponsor. The following day, on February 8th, another heartbeat bill (HB 2915) was introduced in the House by the bill’s lead sponsor Evan Worrell (R – 18th District). Both bills have been referred to the House Health and Human Resources Committee.

  • February 7, 2019, heartbeat bill HB 2903 introduced in the House of Delegates
  • February 8, 2019, heartbeat bill HB 2915 introduced in the House of Delegates

Wyoming

A fetal heartbeat bill, HB 97 (Full text), was introduced in Wyoming in January of 2013. The bill was struck down by a house committee in February 2013.