In recent months, a number of states of the US have taken several actions to restrain the abortion rights of women. Restrictive abortion bans have been made in the states of Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, and North Dakota among other states of US.
Earlier last month, the Governor of Alabama signed the most constraining legislations for abortion rights. It disallows the approach after six months into the pregnancy, in fact, the legislation just bans abortion, even in serious circumstances, like that of rape or incest.
The only relaxation provided by the law is when the women encounter extreme health issues, that can be life-threatening. Reproductive health research by the Guttmacher Institute has claimed that 27 abortion bans have been enacted in 12 states of America in 2019.
The contemporary judicial interpretation of the law regarding abortion, by Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade, states that abortion is legal up until 24 weeks, approximately 5 months. This law implies that the fetus cannot be aborted after it has developed all the necessary organs to survive outside the mother’s body. However, the states are allowed by law to vary the abortion rights accordingly.
Implementations of Abortion Laws
Recently, the Governor of the state of Georgia signed a “heartbeat” bill. It recommends a ban on the procedure as soon as a pulse of the fetus can be detected which is coming from a tube-like structure that will later form the heart of the fetus, only with the exception in the case of rape or incest. This can happen as early as six weeks into pregnancy.
The variations brought in the current law by the states have moved the legal time of abortion way before the standard set by the Supreme Court. Moreover, the doctors’ measure the time of pregnancy from the women’s last mensural cycle, which implies that the embryo has only been fertilized for 4 weeks. This is quite early from women even to realize if she is pregnant.
It is also made sure by the states that the laws are being implemented and acted upon by the people and authorities of the states. Like the states of Missouri, Alabama and North Dakota have announced fines as well as imprisonment for people who violate these laws, whether it be the doctors assisting someone in this matter or women wanting to conduct the procedure.
Medical Apprehensions on these Laws
The medical specialists have also shown their certain concerns regarding these laws. According to them the unborn offspring only gains the status of the fetus, after 8 weeks after fertilization that is almost 10 weeks into pregnancy.
Thus, the pulse or so-called “heartbeat” produced after 6 weeks into a pregnancy, is basically the unborn offspring at the embryonic stage. Therefore, calling the pulse, the fetal heartbeat is not the right approach scientifically, rather it is more of vibration or cardiac activity of embryo.
Furthermore, the medical experts are concerned with non-feasible pregnancies, for example; ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo attaches outside the walls of uterus, making it almost impossible to be detected within the time span of 6 weeks into pregnancy or cryptic pregnancy, where urine and blood tests are negative and ultrasounds don’t show fetus because it grows slowly.
Even if it is detected within the given span of time, the laws stop the doctor from taking any preventive measures until it has actually caused serious harm to women’s health. They are urging to reconsider the bill before its implementation.