Bill Misrepresenting the Science of Fetal Development Introduced in Alabama

On May 15, 2019, the Alabama legislature passed House Bill 314 which makes abortion and attempted abortion a criminal offense (except in limited situations where the health of the mother is at risk). Section 2 of the bill, titled “Legislative Findings,” states that “[r]ecent medical advances prove a baby’s heart starts to beat at around six weeks.” However, according to medical professionals, that is not the case. At six weeks of pregnancy, ultrasounds can detect a “rhythm” which reflects the electrical activity of the embryo, but is not a “heartbeat” as a six-week-old embryo does not yet have developed organs, such as a heart.


On May 24, 2019, Dr. Yashica Robinson, the Alabama Women’s Center, Planned Parenthood Southeast Inc., Reproductive Health Services of Alabama, and West Alabama Women’s Center filed a lawsuit challenging the bill on constitutional grounds.

On October 29, 2019, a U.S. District Court Judge for the Middle District of Alabama issued a preliminary injunction to block House Bill 314 from taking effect while the lawsuit proceeds. In the ruling, Judge Myron H. Thompson of the Alabama District Court wrote that the law violates supreme court precedent and "defies" the constitution.