Women in Kansas may be the latest group to fall victim to the newest troubling trend in anti-choice legislation: Fetal heartbeat bills. These proposals seek to ban abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks — before many women even know they’re pregnant — and directly undermine the rights guaranteed by Roe v. Wade, which grants women’s right to an abortion until the point of viability at around 23 or 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The Kansas fetal heartbeat proposal, HB 2324, was introduced earlier in the legislative season, but had not seen much movement until today when the House Federal and State Affairs Committee announced it would conduct a hearing on the bill at 8:00 am tomorrow, hoping to rush the bill through in the final days of the session. Kansas NOW Lobbyist and State Co-Coordinator Elise Higgins expressed dismay at the tactic:
“Not only is House Bill 2324 clearly a way for Kansas legislators to challenge Roe on the taxpayer dime, notice of the hearing was given less than 24 hours in advance to the general public. We condemn this underhanded approach to legislation unprecedented in its extremity, and are committed to fighting it every step of the way.”
North Dakota passed a heartbeat bill earlier in March that is currently awaiting the governor’s signature, while Arkansas overrode a gubernatorial veto to implement a 12-week heartbeat bill that would ban all abortions after the heartbeat could be detected with an abdominal ultrasound. Mark Gietzen, the chairman of the Kansas Coalition for Life, the group behind HB 2324, boasted that the bill was more restrictive than the Arkansas law and claimed it was “likely to stand up in court” in an op-ed over the weekend.
The Kansas House has already advanced a 70-page omnibus anti-abortion bill that does everything from force doctors to warn about unsupported connections between breast cancer and abortions to restricting comprehensive sex ed resources in public schools.