State lawmakers across the country are gearing up for their new legislative sessions — and, just two weeks into the new year, Republicans are already planning their next attacks on women’s reproductive rights. Since voters largely rejected extreme anti-abortion ideology in the November elections, some Republican lawmakers are now treading somewhat cautiously to avoid risking more public outrage over their positions on women’s health.
But at least one anti-choice lawmaker in Wyoming isn’t as worried about disguising his radical agenda. Despite the fact that a similar measure was unable to gain traction in Ohio because the state’s Republicans admitted it was too controversial even among abortion opponents, Wyoming Rep. Kendall Kroeker (R) has introduced an extreme “fetal heartbeat” bill to redefine the medical concept of viability for the women in his state:
Rep. Kendell Kroeker, R-Evansville, a sponsor of HB97, said that detecting heartbeats is a unique way to look at life.
“It became clear that if a baby had a heartbeat, that seemed simple to me that it’s wrong to kill it,” he said.
The bill substitutes two words in current state law with four words. Current law says abortions are prohibited after the embryo or fetus has “reached viability.” The proposed law removes “reached viability” and adds “a detectable fetal heartbeat.” [...]
Kroeker said that the idea for the bill just came to him, but it’s possible that he heard about it in the news.
Restrictions on late term abortion procedures were one of the most popular methods that Republicans employed to limit reproductive freedom in 2012. However, those extreme laws can come under the scrutiny of the courts for banning abortion before the point of viability, which medical professionals agree occurs at about 22 or 23 weeks of pregnancy. Several laws seeking to ban abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy have been blocked in court because they go too far to threaten women’s constitutional right to an abortion under Roe v. Wade.
But so-called “fetal heartbeat” bills move the goal posts even further, banning abortion procedures as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected — which can occur as early as six weeks, before some women even realize they’re pregnant. According to Kroeker, limiting abortion procedures by an additional 17 weeks is “a unique way to look at life,” but it’s actually a dangerous step toward rolling back women’s constitutional rights.