Gov. Kemp just signed into law the Georgia’s “fetal heartbeat bill” that would prohibit abortion after a heartbeat is detected in an embryo.
The heartbeat happens between 5 to 6 weeks into pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant. Abortion rights advocates have called the bill an effective ban on abortion in the state.
Kemp said at the bill signing,
“Georgia is a state that values life. We protect the innocent, we champion the vulnerable, we stand up and speak for those that are unable to speak for themselves.”
State Rep. Ed Setzler said at the bill signing that a preschooler would call a six-week-old embryo a baby. He also said the legislation
“tries to strike a balance” between “the interest of women who find themselves in difficult circumstances” and what he called “the right thing.”
The bill is a violation of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that protects a woman’s right to an abortion up until when the fetus is viable, typically between 24 and 25 weeks. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights have promised to challenge the legislation long before it goes into effect in January 2020.
HB 481 would also have consequences for women who get abortions from doctors or miscarry. A woman who seeks out an illegal abortion from a health care provider would be a party to murder, subject to life in prison. And a woman who miscarries because of her own conduct—say, using drugs while pregnant—would be liable for second-degree murder, punishable by 10 to 30 years’ imprisonment. Prosecutors may interrogate women who miscarry to determine whether they can be held responsible; if they find evidence of culpability, they may charge, detain, and try these women for the death of their fetuses.
Besides being criminal under this law, abortions in the first trimester can cost up to $1,500, and you will probably need criminal lawyers, according to Planned Parenthood, and some health insurance plans don’t cover them. Kwajelyn Jackson, executive director of the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta said,
“To compact that into a very slim window is incredibly challenging. We really are concerned about how legislation like this ultimately makes abortion completely inaccessible to so many people.”
Abortion rights advocates fear women will resort to “back alley” or illegal abortions if the Georgia law is enacted.
“It’s definitely something to be afraid of. I don’t want people’s lives to be put in severe danger when we know there are completely safe alternatives that can be provided by medical professionals.”