As Ireland is celebrating the first anniversary of the legalisation of abortion by referendum, women in the United States are seeing their reproductive rights threatened, after several States passed the Heartbeat Bill.
Nearly ten states across the US, including Georgia, Ohio and Kentucky, signed in the law which has been dubbed the Heartbeat Bill or the fetal heartbeat bill. Under this law, abortions will be illegal once a heartbeat can be detected, which usually occurs around the sixth week of pregnancy.
Alabama, which on May 15th became the latest State to sign the bill, has the strictest abortion laws in the country, only allowing abortions “to avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother,” for ectopic pregnancy and if the “unborn child has a lethal anomaly.”
The Heartbeat Bill has been described by many as a “war on women”. It doesn’t consider pregnancies that are unwanted, are dangerous to the mother and those that have come from rape or incest. A doctor in Alabama can face up to 99 years in prison if they perform abortions – a much longer sentence than a rapist who may have caused an unwanted pregnancy.
The Heartbeat Bill was brought into law in Georgia when it was signed by Governor Brian Kemp on May 7th of this year. This sparked outrage throughout the country and globally, though not the first state to do so it was the first to cause so much debate.
Georgia is used by many Hollywood film studios – such as Disney, Netflix and Viacom – as shooting locations. The industry brings in approximately $9.5 billion into the Georgia economy every year. Many of these studios are now threatening to boycott the State – which could lose significant income as a result.
More states, including Missouri and South Carolina, are due to sign in similar abortion bans soon. Louisiana passed a heartbeat bill which will go into effect if the law in Mississippi is upheld.