West Virginia Fetal Heartbeat Act (HB 2903)
This law was last updated on May 28, 2019
HB 2903 would prohibit a physician from performing or inducing an abortion on a pregnant person if it has been determined that the fetus has a detectable heartbeat.
Cardiac activity can be detected as early as six weeks of pregnancy—two weeks after a person’s first missed period—and well before many people even realize that they are pregnant.
The bill would prohibit a physician from performing an abortion without first determining whether the fetus has a detectable heartbeat. The bill would allow the state Director of Health to propose rules for specifying the appropriate methods of performing an examination for the purpose of determining the presence of a fetal heartbeat based on standard medical practice. The bill specifies that the rules may require only that an examination be performed externally.
The person who performs the examination for the presence of a fetal heartbeat would be required to offer the pregnant person the option to view or hear the fetal heartbeat.
Any physician who performs an abortion without first checking for a fetal heartbeat may lose their professional license to practice medicine.
A physician would be able to perform an abortion only in cases of medical emergency or if it has been determined that there is no detectable heartbeat. If there is a medical emergency, the physician would need to document it in the patient’s medical record.
If a fetal heartbeat is detected, a physician would be required to inform the pregnant person that the fetus has a detectable heartbeat and of the statistical probability of bringing the fetus to term. The pregnant person would need to certify that they received the information. The physician could not perform or induce an abortion until all the requirements are met and at least 24 hours have elapsed.
The bill would prohibit a person from performing or inducing an abortion on a pregnant person when a fetal heartbeat has been detected.
Any physician who performs an abortion in violation may lose their professional license to practice medicine.
This would not apply to a physician who performs a medical procedure that is designed or intended to prevent the death of the pregnant person or to prevent a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant person.
The bill would allow the state to inspect the medical records from any facility that performs abortions to ensure that the physicians or other persons who perform abortions at that facility are in compliance with its reporting requirements.
2/7/19 – Introduced.