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Georgia Passes 6-Week 'Fetal Heartbeat' Bill That Bans Most Abortions, Gov to Sign
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=50087"><span class="small">Amanda Sakuma, Vox</span></a>   
Sunday, 31 March 2019 13:28

Sakuma writes: "The Georgia House of Representatives approved a bill that would effectively ban most abortions in the state on Friday."

There is a nation-wide push on abortion restrictions. (photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
There is a nation-wide push on abortion restrictions. (photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Georgia Passes 6-Week 'Fetal Heartbeat' Bill That Bans Most Abortions, Gov to Sign

By Amanda Sakuma, Vox

31 March 19

It’s part of a nation-wide push on abortion restrictions

he Georgia House of Representatives approved a bill that would effectively ban most abortions in the state on Friday.

The bill, titled HB481, or the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, would bar women from terminating their pregnancies after a fetal heartbeat is first detected, which can be as early as around the six-week mark. That is a point prior to which most women are even aware they are pregnant. If passed, this legislation would be one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the U.S. and an affront to a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

Gov. Brian Kemp, a first-term Republican, is all but certain to sign the bill once the legislative session ends on Tuesday. Kemp released a statement after the bill passed the House on Friday, praising the legislature for daring to take such an aggressive step to limit abortions in the state.

“The legislature’s bold action reaffirms our priorities and who we are as a state,” Kemp tweeted Friday.

Rep. Ed Setzler, the Republican lawmaker who introduced the Georgia bill, argues along with his supporters that life begins the moment a heartbeat can be detected. Setzler’s bill further ingrains that mantra by allowing parents to claim their embryo as a dependent on their taxes and have it count toward state population statistics.

Opponents in the medical community, however, say the metric determining a heartbeat is at times dubious. According to The Atlanta Journal Constitution, doctors in Georgia argue that developing tissue of a fetus at six weeks may be mistaken as a heartbeat and it would not be able to survive outside of the mother’s womb.

Georgia currently has a restrictive ban on abortion in place that prevents women from undergoing the procedure after 20 weeks. This new bill dramatically reduces the window allowing women to seek an abortion, but still, there are some new exceptions. A woman may terminate her pregnancy in cases of a documented medical emergency, or if she is a victim of rape or incest. In the latter case, she must first file a police report before undergoing the procedure.

The measure passed the state Senate last week along party lines, but the House vote on Friday was much closer: state lawmakers approved the bill in a narrow 92-78 vote. The measure needed 91 votes in favor to pass.

Activists responded to the vote on Friday by dressing up in red robes and white bonnets in reference to the TV series, The Handmaid’s Tale, which is based on a dystopian novel in which all child-bearing women in the US are enslaved. Police threatened to arrest several protesters as they yelled “shame” from the steps of the state capitol.

The bill also captured the attention of dozens of A-list celebrities. Gabrielle Union, Don Cheadle, and Amy Schumer were among the 40 Hollywood celebrities who signed a letter lobbying TV and film production companies to boycott the state in response to the new abortion restrictions.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Georgia has already vowed to take Georgia to court the moment the governor signs the bill. “If Gov. Kemp signs this abortion ban bill into law, the ACLU has one message: we will see you in court,” Andrea Young, the state’s executive director, said in a statement on Friday.

This bill is the latest in a nation-wide push for “fetal-heartbeat” bills

The Georgia bill is part of a nationwide trend in conservative states trying to impose tight restrictions on abortion rights with the end goal of forcing the conservative-leaning bench of Supreme Court justices to decide on whether to uphold a woman’s constitutional right to seek an abortion. With the recent addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the court, anti-abortion advocates see an opportunity to push legal challenges that will ultimately gut the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that affirmed accessing abortion is a woman’s constitutional right in 1973. The Guttmacher Institute notes a 63 percent increase in the number of abortion restrictions introduced by state legislators this year alone.

An increasing number of those restrictions have come in the form of so-called “fetal-heartbeat” bills. The Georgia version comes on the heels of similar laws recently passing in both Kentucky and Mississippi. Neither have fully gone into effect yet, though, as civil rights and reproductive justice organizations are aggressively challenging those laws. Earlier this month, a federal judge blocked Kentucky’s version of a “fetal heartbeat bill” that also banned abortions near the six-week mark. Another federal judge struck down Mississippi’s 15-week ban on abortions last year, calling it unconstitutional.

Despite the consistent push back these bills have faced from federal courts, Republican lawmakers in states from Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina and Ohio have their own versions of “fetal heartbeat” legislation in the works.

Challengers to the new Georgia abortion restriction may have some time to ensure the law never sees the light of day. Even if Kemp signs the bill, the law wouldn’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2020.

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+3 # chapdrum 2019-03-31 22:01
They force a woman (or a girl) to give birth. If the woman/girl can't afford to support herself and the baby, then those who did the forcing turn their backs in judgment.
+4 # Wordslinger 2019-04-01 00:58
And here we again have the far Christian right dictating how the rest of us should live. Fuck the far right.
+1 # DongiC 2019-04-01 02:13
We should have another Constitutional Convention. The conservative, republican oriented states who resist gun control, are against abortions, against state taxes, against bottling laws, for Donald Trump, should form one nation, the Red States Union. The progressive states, the Green New Deal ones, the Democratic Socialist entities, the Impeach Trump states, the pro abortion people etc should form another. Call it the Blue States Union. I resent my taxes going to bail out a bunch of yahoo constituencies with whom I have nothing in common.

I think it is time to part, peacefully. We are on a collision course which does not augur well for the future. The blue and the red should not emulate the blue and the grey. One civil war is enough for any civilization. As a parting gesture, the blue states will help pay the moving costs of all citizens who wish to transfer to a different country. That is only fair as the blue states have far more wealth than the red. So to all the fine Citizens of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, the Carolinas, West Virginia, Tennessee , Kentucky, Ohio, Texas, Nebraska, Iowa, Dakotas, Utah, Idaho and any other red state, I bid you a fond farewell.

To all blue states I say: Let's go guys. We have a lot of catching up to do. Let's achieve the promise of this land and have a decent life for all or people regardless of race, religion, sex, income or age. Let's make Blue America truly great.
+1 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2019-04-01 14:41
Part I
I have read Georgia’s new anti-abortion bill, HB481, and from the perspective of one who takes it on faith that an embryo is a “person” as soon as it has a detectable heartbeat, that bill is reasonably well-thought out. It contains exceptions when the “person” has already died in utero or will not be able to survive birth even after a full gestation, or there is a “spontaneous abortion” or there is a grave physical, NOT MENTAL, threat to the life of the woman, or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest IF the abortion takes place before the “The probable gestational age of the unborn child is 20 weeks or less”.

That being said, the entire reasoning, the lynchpin for this legislation, is stated in Section II, §(3) “Modern medical science, not available decades ago, demonstrates that unborn children are a class of living, distinct persons and more expansive state recognition of unborn children as persons did not exist when Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) and Roe v. Wade (1973) established abortion related precedents”. However, this declaration is not true.
+1 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2019-04-01 14:56
Part II
Modern medical science does NOT demonstrate that embryos are either “unborn children” or “distinct persons”. Note that there is FAR LESS “scientific evidence” that an embryo is a child or person than there is scientific evidence that climate change is a real threat to our planet. Nevertheless a majority of Republicans and Conservatives embrace outlier “scientific” claims that embryos are persons and simultaneously dismiss as a “hoax” the support of the vast majority of climate scientists when they speak to climate change. Worse, these people claiming that embryos are children/person s are either a) not trained in embryology or obstetrics, b) very strongly influenced by their faith or their religion’s dogma, or c) both.

Simply calling embryos “unborn children” doesn’t make them children nor does saying they are “persons” make it so.