Missouri Fetal Heartbeat Bill (SB 408)
This law was last updated on Jul 6, 2017
SB 408 would prohibit a person from knowingly performing or inducing an abortion upon a pregnant patient if a fetal heartbeat has been detected, except in the case of a medical emergency.
The bill would require a physician to first determine whether there is a detectable fetal heartbeat prior to performing or inducing an abortion. The method of determining the presence of a fetal heartbeat must be consistent with the physician’s good faith understanding of standard medical practice.
The physician would be required to give the pregnant patient the option to view or hear the fetal heartbeat.
If a fetal heartbeat is detected, the physician would be required to inform the pregnant patient, in writing, that a fetal heartbeat has been detected and that an abortion may not be performed under Missouri law except in the cases of medical emergency.
If a fetal heartbeat is not detected, the physician would be required to perform the abortion within 96 hours of the conclusion of the fetal heartbeat test. If an abortion is not performed within 96 hours of the test, a new fetal heartbeat detection test would need to be conducted by a physician.
A physician who fails to conduct a fetal heartbeat detection test prior to the performance or inducement of an abortion upon a pregnant patient would, for each instance of failure, be subject to having his or her license or license application rejected, revoked, or suspended by the state board of registration for the healing arts for a period of six months and be subject to a fine of $1,000.
A physician who performs or induces an abortion upon a pregnant patient after a fetal heartbeat detection test reveals the presence of a fetal heartbeat in the “unborn child” would have his or her license revoked, and any future license application rejected, by the state board of registration for the healing arts.
The bill prohibits the pregnant patient from being prosecuted for a conspiracy to violate the provisions of this law.
The bill would amend current abortion reporting requirements to require a physician to include the following information:
- The time, date, method, and results of the fetal heartbeat detection test performed prior to the abortion.
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 “standard medical practice”—might be a source of confusion for abortion providers attempting to comply with this bill.