Folks, you knew this was coming, and I've been warning you about it for months. Republicans are making their move early to eliminate legal abortion in America, and of course the man behind it is Steve King.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on Thursday introduced the first federal “heartbeat bill” modeled on a failed Ohio attempt to end legal abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy—before many people know they’re pregnant.
“Heartbeat bills” amount to total abortion bans. They have been declared unconstitutional in federal court.
King’s office confirmed that HR 490 marked the first introduction of a so-called heartbeat bill in the U.S. Congress. Former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) introduced a forced ultrasound bill in 2011, but her measure did not ban abortion—King’s stated goal.
A King press release called Roe v. Wade unconstitutional, adding that under HR 490, “if a heartbeat is detected, the baby is protected.”
His spokesperson provided Rewire with legislative text specifying that an abortion provider “who knowingly performs an abortion and thereby kills a human fetus” without determining a heartbeat, informing the patient of a heartbeat, or proceeding regardless of a heartbeat would face fines and up to five years in prison. The bill includes limited exceptions for the physical health of the pregnant person but not for “psychological or emotional conditions.”
King worked on the bill with anti-choice activist Janet Porter, the Faith2Action leader deemed too extreme for Christian talk radio, the congressman’s spokesperson said. Porter was behind Ohio Republicans’ recent failed attempt to push through a total abortion ban. Anti-choice Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) vetoed the measure the same day he signed a 20-week ban into law, reasoning that the 20-week ban would be more constitutionally prudent. It’s not.
Porter persuaded King to act while both attended the funeral of Phyllis Schlafly, the notorious Equal Rights Amendment opponent, as People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch first reported in October.
“I gave him a packet and he has agreed to introduce a federal Heartbeat Bill, which would protect every baby whose heartbeat can be detected,” Porter said on a conference call at the time. “That will actually end abortion in nearly every case. Ninety to 95 percent of the abortions will be ended with that bill.”
It's bad enough that this will probably pass the House (and hopefully dies screaming in the Senate) but King outright calling Roe unconstitutional is nonsense. It's pretty clear what King expects, that this will be the vehicle to destroy Roe and end legal, safe abortion in America and move it to back alleys and illegal clinics.
How far it will go, we'll see. But expect many more attempts to end Roe over the next two years, minimum.