‘Heartbeat’ laws could ban most abortions across Deep South

A push among conservative U.S. states to enact some of the nation’s strictest abortion laws could practically outlaw the procedures across a large area of the Deep South and a chunk of the Midwest.

Georgia last week became the fourth state to enact a ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which occurs before many women know they’re pregnant. Similar bans have been signed into law this year in Mississippi, Kentucky and Ohio.

Alabama lawmakers plan a vote next week on whether to make performing nearly any abortion a felony. So-called “heartbeat” bans also remain in play in Republican-controlled legislatures in Louisiana and Missouri.

Attorney Elisabeth Smith of the Center for Reproductive Rights expects all such laws to be blocked by courts while lawsuits play out, which could take several years.

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