(Credit: Jason Getz)
On Friday, March 29, the Georgia House of Representatives approved a bill that, beginning in 2020, would ban most abortions in the state. HB481, also titled the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, prohibits women from having abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected which is usually around the six-week mark. The bill would become one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country, as many women are not even aware that they are pregnant at six weeks.
State representative Ed Setzler, who authored the bill, is a Republican who lives in Acworth. He claims that the law serves to protect the “human rights” of unborn children.
“This bill recognizes the fundamental life of the child in the womb is worthy of legal protection and balances that basic right to life with the very different situations women find themselves in in pregnancies,” said Setzler.
Ignoring the knowledge of women and doctors on how pregnancy works, Setzler also said “It’s simply not true that women can’t know they’re pregnant by six weeks,” and asserted that women can immediately know that they’re pregnant through missed periods or home pregnancy tests.
After the vote, governor Brian Kemp tweeted “We stand up for for the innocent and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. The legislature’s bold actions reaffirms our priorities and who we are as a state.” Before the bill was initiated, Kemp had already maintained that he wanted Georgia to have the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. He is expected to sign the bill into law and has until May 12 to do so, but it is unknown when he will sign it.
Human rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood have vowed to challenge the bill in court, contending that it takes away women’s constitutional rights.
“This is nothing more than women being part of a larger political game and being used as political pawns,” said Planned Parenthood Southeast president and CEO Staci Fox, asserting that the bill is a part of a national attack on women’s healthcare.
The ACLU of Georgia has promised to take the state to court when Kemp signs the bill into law; “If Gov. Kemp signs this abortion ban bill into law, the ACLU has one message: we will see you in court,” said Andrea Young, the ACLU of Georgia’s executive director.
Several other states have proposed similar bills– Republican lawmakers in Florida, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee are working on their own versions of the “fetal heartbeat” bill. Such bills will not go unchallenged, though. In early March, Kentucky’s version of the heartbeat bill was struck down by a federal judge. Last year, a judge in Mississippi blocked the state’s 15-week abortion ban. Therefore, opponents of Georgia’s bill maintain hope that the federal courts will block the ban before it goes into effect.