Your Guide to the "Heartbeat" Bill

There are currently eight states that have passed the “heartbeat" bill: North Dakota, Iowa, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia and Ohio. Right now most of the controversy is over Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas. There are also 11 states that currently have the bill pending: New York, Florida, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, Maryland, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois, and Minnesota.

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Lately, several states have been adopting the idea of the heartbeat bill which would prevent women from seeking an abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy. While the states that have adopted these ideas into laws already have slight differences and exceptions, this implies a big change in women's health and in women's rights.

Among all these different states and all of the articles, it's hard to figure out what exactly is and isn’t illegal by the state, so here is a breakdown for Ohio, Alabama and Georgia as well some tips if you are seeking an abortion in a state that has passed the “heartbeat" bill.


Ohio Governor, Mike DeWine signed the six-week abortion ban known as the “heartbeat" bill on April 11, 2019, just one day after it passed the Republican-led General Assembly, according to NPR.

The law will take effect on July 10, 2019, unless a federal judge blocks the bill, which hasn’t happened yet.

This bill is also known as the “Human Rights Protection Act,” SB 23 outlaws abortions as early as five or six weeks, which is before many women even know they’re pregnant because this is two weeks after a missed period.

This bill doesn’t have exceptions for cases of rape or incest, but it does include exceptions to save the life of the woman.

This bill allows for the use of transvaginal ultrasounds to detect heartbeat activity two weeks earlier than an abdominal ultrasound would.

Doctors who violate the law by performing abortions after detecting a heartbeat would face a fifth-degree felony and up to a year in prison.

“The legislation also allows the State Medical Board to take disciplinary actions against doctors found in violation and impose penalties of up to $20,000,” says NPR.

Ectopic pregnancies aren’t allowed to be terminated according to NBC News, rather this bill requires doctors to remove the embryo from the fallopian tube and re-implant it into the womb, which is medically impossible.

This bill will also ban procedures and forms of birth control that are believed to be preventing implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus, such as birth control pills and IUDs.

Photo courtesy of Red State


Governor Brian Kemp signed the “heartbeat" bill on May 7, 2019, banning abortions after a heartbeat can be detected in a conceptus, which is usually when a woman is six weeks pregnant. This bill will take effect on January 1, 2020.

Unlike Ohio, this bill contains exceptions for rape and incest as well as medical emergencies, but to obtain an abortion after rape they would have to file a police report.

This bill also declares “unborn children are a class of living, distinct person” that deserves “full legal recognition,” according to Slate. This means Georgia law must recognize unborn children as people and not just for the purpose of abortion, but as a legal rule.

Women who perform their own abortions through drugs, who miscarry or even travel out of state to have an abortion could lead to criminal prosecutions, according to Vox. This is because since the fetus are now considered their own person it would be considered murder, and the penalty for murder is life imprisonment or capital punishment.

Additionally, the healthcare provider who provides an illegal abortion to a woman would be considered an accessory to murder and subject to life in prison.

“Prosecutors may interrogate women who miscarry to determine whether they can be held responsible; if they find evidence of culpability, they may charge, detain, and try these women for the death of their fetuses,” says Slate.

If a woman goes out of state for an abortion they may be charged with conspiracy to commit murder, and so will anyone who helps the women plan her trip to get an out-of-state abortion.

Photo courtesy of The New York Times


The “heartbeat" bill was signed on May 16, 2019, by Governor Kay Ivey to ban abortion at any point in the pregnancy. This bill goes into effect on December 16, 2019.

Unlike Georgia, this bill won’t punish patients who get abortions, but rather it could send doctors who perform the procedure to prison for up to 99 years.

In Alabama, there is no exception for rape or incest survivors according to Medium.

Alabama’s law isn’t as complicated as Ohio or Georgia’s, rather it is just an all-out ban on abortions. Nothing is criminalized except for the act of performing the procedure, which only the doctor would get jail time for, according to The Washington Post.

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What women in these states can do courtesy of Pro-Choice Forever.

1. Only take an at home test, do not go to a doctor.

2. Do not tell anyone that you are pregnant, they could turn you in or be considered an accessory.

3. Tell people you are going camping, fishing, hiking or just on a trip in general out of state.

4. Obtain an abortion and DO NOT sign any waivers. If you do not sign any waivers giving consent for even providers to communicate with other providers, you are safe.

5. Look up Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA). Your information is federally protected and if someone knows you had an abortion and leaks that information, they will go to prison because they violated HIPAA.

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