Channing Sargent
January 15, 2017 11:28 am
Anna Ferensowicz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

If you’ve been following politics lately, you may have heard rumblings of a new bill introduced in Congress that would effectively ban almost all abortions in all cases. Well, unfortunately for anyone who cares about reproductive rights, yup, it was introduced. And yup, this is a problem for a variety of reasons. Here’s the lowdown on the so-called federal “heartbeat bill.”

Here is what the bill means:

On Thursday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) introduced the first federal “heartbeat bill.” “Heartbeat bills” amount to total abortion bans. King’s office stated that under HR 490, “if a heartbeat is detected, the baby is protected.”

Because rhyming statements have never led to issues before.

The bill outlaws abortion when a heartbeat is present, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy (before most people even know they are pregnant). It leaves essentially no consideration for circumstances of the pregnancy, like rape.

The bill is probably illegal, but that could change.

Such bills have been declared unconstitutional in federal court. But that didn’t stop King from introducing the bill the same week that the house voted to defund the Affordable Care Act, and that Paul Ryan promised to defund Planned Parenthood.

Moreover, under Trump’s administration, we will definitely see at least one, but possibly more spots on the Supreme Court given to highly conservative judges. Remember: the Supreme Court traditionally upholds prior decisions about constitutionality, but it isn’t required to do so. And there are some very scary opponents right now.

Rep. King’s name probably rings a bell for bad reasons.

Rep. Steve King has been vocal about his goal to totally outlaw abortion. In a press release, he said that he feels Roe v. Wade is unconstitutional.

King’s bill includes very limited exceptions for the physical health of the mother, but not for “psychological or emotional conditions.”

According to Rewire, King worked on the bill with Janet Porter, an anti-choice activist and leader of Faith2Action, a radio show that was canceled by its Christian radio host for being too extreme.

Similar bills that have been introduced in the past, (including a recent Ohio bill that had Porter’s handiwork) have been struck down before they reached Congress, due to judicial precedent. But as stated above, there is no way to ensure that precedent holds.

You can make a difference in this fight.

The introduction of such extreme legislation applies pressure on the Court to dismantle Roe v. Wade, and redirect power to ban abortions to the states.

In our current political climate, a woman’s right to choose is under direct threat.

But our voices can be heard: if you want to speak up in favor of safe and legal access to abortion, call your Representative’s office and voice your opposition to HR 490.

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