Georgia lawmakers sent a “fetal heartbeat” abortion bill to the governor’s desk Friday that could give the state one of the most restrictive laws of its kind in the country.
It would reduce the ability to receive a legal abortion to as little as six weeks, down from the current 20 weeks. Critics vow to fight the bill in court.
With the approval of Georgia’s house, the “fetal heartbeat” abortion ban bill now goes to Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican who said it would sign it. The bill would make an abortion illegal once a heartbeat can be detected in the womb, which can happen in as little as six weeks.
The bill is “scientifically, legally, and practically sound,” said its backer, state Rep. Ed Setzler, in a tweet earlier this month. “This thoughtful bill strikes the balance between protecting the rights of mothers and their unborn children.”
Georgia would join two other states that recently had their own heartbeat abortion bills signed into law. Republican lawmakers in several other states, including Tennessee, South Carolina, Ohio and Florida, are considering similar bills.
“We’re seeing a wave of six-week abortion bans move across the states,” said Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights advocacy group.
“It took five years to pass the first two six-week abortion bans in North Dakota and Iowa, in 2013 and 2018 respectively. And in the first three months of 2019 we have two more signed, in Kentucky and Mississippi and the Georgia bill on the governor’s desk.”
Though the bans have been ruled constitutional, conservative state legislators are looking to adopt more restrictive abortion laws ahead of a court case that could roll back abortion rights, she said.
The ACLU of Georgia said it will fight Georgia’s bill if it is signed into law, which has already indicated it will go to court on it.
“This bill further erodes the health and well-being of Georgia’s women and reveals a callous disregard for their well-established constitutional rights,” said Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia.
Contributing: Associated Press
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