A proposed Kentucky law its sponsor calls “the most pro-life piece of the legislation that has ever been filed in the Kentucky Legislature” would make abortion a felony if performed after the heartbeat of the unborn child can be detected.
The bill was proposed by state Rep. Robert Goforth, a Republican from East Bernstadt. It will join other pieces of legislation being proposed for the 2019 session of the Kentucky legislature, which begins on Jan. 8.
The law would require an abortion provider to check for a fetal heartbeat before ending a woman’s pregnancy. A baby’s heart begins beating roughly six weeks after conception.
Performing an abortion if that heartbeat is detected — without a documented medical emergency — would be a Class D felony under Goforth’s proposal. That would send an abortion provider to jail for up to five years, WAVE reported.
Performing an abortion in Kentucky would be illegal after a fetal heartbeat is detectable under legislation pre-filed by Rep. Robert Goforth, R-East Bernstadt. https://t.co/suyyGSQYEh
— LEX 18 News (@LEX18News) December 13, 2018
“My proposal recognizes that everyone has a right to life,” Goforth said, according to Kentucky Today.
“My personal belief is that life begins at conception and ends at natural death. A heartbeat proves that there’s life that deserves protection under law — if a heart is beating, a baby needs to be protected and given an opportunity to live,” he said.
Goforth’s legislation reflects the reality of the hard start his 4-year-old triplets had.
“My children were barely two pounds when they were born 11 weeks early,” he said. “We spent 23 weeks in the hospital when they were born and there were babies born there even earlier than they were.”
He said that just because some abortion laws allow late-term abortions does not mean they are right.
“Some states perform abortions when the gestation is even further along than my children were when they were born,” he said. “We’re talking about viable babies. They are children. We owe it to all children to stand up and fight for them.”
Goforth is under no illusions that the legislation will be a fight all the way — not just to gain passage, but in court if adopted and implemented.
“I look forward to the day our laws and our court system give unborn children the legal right to life that they deserve so they can grow and live happy and productive lives,” he said.
The Kentucky bill is similar to one that is being considered in Ohio, according to Cleveland.com. The two houses of the Ohio General Assembly passed slightly different versions of the bill. If Ohio’s House of Representatives agrees on the language changes adopted by the state Senate, the bill would go to Gov. John Kasich for signature. Kasich vetoed a similar bill in 2016.
Kasich leaves office at the end of the year. If the wrangling over the language delays the bill until next year, it would go before Kasich’s successor, Mike DeWine.
DeWine said during his campaign he would support the legislation, according to Cincinnati.com
“I will sign the bill,” he said. “I believe that the essential function of government is to protect the most vulnerable members of society. That includes the unborn.”
When the law passed the Ohio House, its advocates said it was developed with a bigger picture in mind.
Republican Ohio Rep. Christina Hagan said last month that the bill invites a court challenge that could eventually lead to the toppling of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
“We believe Ohio is best positioned to send this through the Circuit Courts and to the federal Supreme Court,” Hagan said, according to The New York Times.