Alabama Fetal Heartbeat Act 2015 (HB 405)
This law was last updated on Apr 10, 2015
HB 405 would have prohibited a physician from performing an abortion on a pregnant woman without first determining if the fetus had a detectable heartbeat. The bill stated that the procedure for detecting the heartbeat shall be pursuant to “the applicable medical standard of care.” The bill would have required the physician to document in writing the procedure used to determine the existence of the heartbeat in the fetus, the date the procedure was performed, and the results of the procedure. The bill would have also required that the documentation be maintained for seven years and in the same manner as other similar medical records.
The bill stated that if a detectable heartbeat has been determined, an abortion may be performed for treatment of a condition that, absent an abortion, is likely to result in the death of the pregnant woman or is likely to result in substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman, not including psychological or emotional conditions. The bill provided no exception for rape or incest.
A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks of pregnancy—two weeks after a woman’s first missed period—and well before many women even realize that they are pregnant.
Generally, an intrusive vaginal ultrasound is required to detect a fetal heartbeat, so the language in this bill—specifying the use of “applicable standard of care”—might be a source of confusion for abortion providers attempting to comply with this bill.
Violation of this provision would have been a Class C felony. The bill stated that a pregnant woman may not be prosecuted for a violation of the law or conspiracy to violate the law. The bill also stated that it did not prohibit the use or sale of contraceptives.
The bill was indefinitely postponed.