Alabama Fetal Heartbeat Act (HB 21)
This law was last updated on Jun 27, 2016
HB 21 would prohibit a physician from performing an abortion on a pregnant woman without first determining if the fetus had a detectable heartbeat. If a heartbeat is detected, a physician would be prohibited from performing the abortion.
The bill would require the physician to document in writing the procedure used to determine the existence of the heartbeat in the fetus, the date the procedure was performed, and the results of the procedure. The bill also requires that the documentation be maintained for seven years and in the same manner as other similar medical records.
The bill states that if a detectable heartbeat has been determined, an abortion may be performed for treatment of a condition that, absent an abortion, is likely to result in the death of the pregnant woman or is likely to result in substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman, not including psychological or emotional conditions. The bill provides no exception for rape or incest.
A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks of pregnancy—two weeks after a woman’s first missed period—and well before many women even realize that they are pregnant.
Generally, an intrusive vaginal ultrasound is required to detect a fetal heartbeat, so the language in this bill—specifying the use of “applicable standard of care”—might be a source of confusion for abortion providers attempting to comply with this bill.
Violation of this provision would be a Class C felony. The bill states that a pregnant woman may not be prosecuted for a violation of the law or conspiracy to violate the law. The bill also states that it does not prohibit the use or sale of contraceptives.
Companion bill to SB 9.
Similar to HB 405, which failed to pass in 2015.