Alabama abortion ban: Where neighboring states of Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi stand
The issue of abortion in the US has now reached an unprecedented rate of bills and laws being passed. Abortion in the country is legal, courtesy of the landmark case of Roe v. Wade. To be more specific, abortion is legal in all the states and every state has at least one abortion clinic. Individual states, however, can regulate the use of abortion or even create "trigger laws", which will make abortion illegal within the first and second trimesters if the Roe case was overturned by the Supreme Court.
In the country, there are currently six states — Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota — that have trigger laws with the intent of making abortion a criminal offense. There are also nine states — Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Mississippi - which still have their unenforced pre-Roe abortion bans.
According to the US Supreme Court case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, states cannot place any legal restrictions that pose an undue burden for "the purpose or effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus".
In light of the recent near-total abortion ban that was signed by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, we look at the neighboring states and where they stand in this sensitive issue.
There have been two fetal heartbeat bills that have been filed in the Florida Legislature in 2019. Rep. Mike Hill filed one fetal heartbeat bill on January 10, 2019, in the Florida House of Representatives. A second bill was then filed in the Florida Senate on February 6, 2019, by Sen. Dennis Baxley. The bills, which are identical, make it a third-degree felony if a doctor performs an abortion on a woman after a fetal heartbeat is detected.
This is the case unless the "woman has been diagnosed with a condition that would create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function if the woman delayed terminating her pregnancy".
Georgia has a six-week abortion ban that will be going into effect very soon. This will make it illegal to obtain an abortion in the state after the fetus' heartbeat is detected. Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation on May 7. Banning abortion after the fetus' heartbeat is detected means that it can be as early as six weeks before many women even know they're pregnant.
Kemp said he was signing the bill "to ensure that all Georgians have the opportunity to live, grow, learn and prosper in our great state." HB 481 makes exceptions in the case of rape and incest — if the woman files a police report first — and to save the life of the mother. It also would allow for abortions when a fetus is determined not to be viable because of serious medical issues.
The state had two fetal heartbeat bills filed in the Tennessee General Assembly this year. Rep. James "Micah" Van Huss filed the HB 77 bill in the Tennessee House of Representatives on January 23, 2019. Sen. Mark Pody filed SB 1236 in the Tennessee Senate on February 7, 2019. The HB 77 was passed out of the Tennessee House by a vote of 66-21 on February 7, 2019.
If the bill is passed, the state would also have a fetal heartbeat law that will prevent any woman from getting an abortion after the first six weeks of pregnancy. According to the National Abortion Rights Action League, 63% of women in the state live in counties where there are no abortion clinics. With Alabama passing such a strict act, however, Tennessee could see an influx of women trying to get abortions in a state with already limited service providers.
In January 2019, there were three heartbeat bills were filed in the Mississippi Legislature. Sen. Angela Burks Hill's SB 2116 was referred to the Public Health and Welfare Committee on January 11. Rep. Chris Brown's HB 732 was referred to the Public Health and Human Services Committee on January 17. After the bills passed out of their respective committees in February, both the bills were passed out of the Mississippi Senate and Mississippi House on February 13.
On March 19, the Senate concurred in the House amendments to SB 2116. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant then signed the fetal heartbeat bill into law on March 22.