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2019-MAY: Anti-abortion bill becomes a law in Georgia:

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2019-MAY-07: Governor Brian Kemp (R) signed an anti-abortion "heartbeat" bill into law.

He said that he is fulfilling his committment to sign "the toughest abortion bill in the country" into law ... Georgia is a state that values life. We stand up for those who are unable to speak for themselves." 1

Emily Wax-Thibodeaux and Ariana Eunjung Cha, writing for the Washington Post said:

"Sixteen states have passed or are scrambling to pass bans on abortion after a doctor can detect what they call 'a fetal heartbeat in the womb,' usually at about six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant. That includes Georgia, where Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed a 'heartbeat bill' into law on Tuesday [MAY-07]." 1

Actress Alyssa Milano personally delivered a letter of protest to the Governor's office during April. It was signed by 50 celebrities who promised to boycott the state if the bill is signed into law. Georgia has/had a growing TV industry.

"Heartbeat laws" refer to one variety of anti-abortion legislation. So far, they have only been passed by Republican-dominated state legislatures. They prohibit women from obtaining a legal abortion if her pregnancy has developed to the point where the embryo's heartbeat can be detected. Actually, the term "heartbeat" is not an accurate term. What is detected is is often mere pulsing of cells that are starting to specialize their function and will eventually develop into a heart later during the pregnancy.

This pulsing starts about six weeks gestation, measured from the start of the woman's last menstrual period (LMP). Thus, these laws ban abortions at about four weeks after conception which is about two weeks after her first missed menstrual period. At this time, many women would not realize that they are pregnant. They may believe that their period is simply coming a bit later than normal. By the time she realizes that she is pregnant, an abortion would be illegal under one of these laws.

Georgia's abortion law is HB 481, and is called the "Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act." It considers an embryo with a detectable "heartbeat" to be a "natural person" who is to be included in any population-based determinations. For example, she or he qualifies as a dependent minor on a Georgia income tax form.

The law allows abortions up to 20 weeks gestational age if it was the result of rape or incest. but only if an official police report had been filed. It also allows an abortion at any gestational age if a "physician determines, in reasonable medical judgment, that the pregnancy is medically futile." That is, if the newborn would not survive.

Moira Donegan, writing for The Guardian newspaper, said of Georgia's abortion law:

"It’s possible that Georgia authorities could start treating every miscarriage as a potential homicide. ... Women who abort their pregnancies and, probably, some women who have accidental miscarriages, will be treated as murderers under the law, subject to imprisonment and even capital punishment. Those who leave the state for an abortion, or who help others leave the state for an abortion, can be charged with conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. 1

On MAY-13, British actress Jameela Mamil tweeted criticisms directed at Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R). One said:

"This anti-abortion law in Georgia is so upsetting, inhumane, and blatantly demonstrative of a hatred of women, a disregard for our rights, bodies, mental health, and essentially a punishment for rape victims, forcing to carry the baby of their rapist."

Her tweet received 3,646 retweets and 18, 545 likes. 2

Meanwhile, a number of states are amending their constitutions to preserve abortion access in the future in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that guaranteed women's access to abortion during their first and second trimesters is overturned by the High Court. Vermont passed such a bill on MAY-07. New Mexico, Nevada, Rhode Island and nine other states are debating similar bills.

Tom McClusky, is the president of March for Life Action, an anti-abortion group. He said bills that ban abortion after six weeks:

"... lay the groundwork for pushing the envelope of life even farther. ... What we’d like to do is change the culture so that no family facing this situation would think of the option of abortion." 3

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Moira Donegan, writing for The Guardian newspaper, said of Georgia's abortion law:

"It’s possible that Georgia authorities could start treating every miscarriage as a potential homicide. ... women who abort their pregnancies and, probably, some women who have accidental miscarriages, will be treated as murderers under the law, subject to imprisonment and even capital punishment. Those who leave the state for an abortion, or who help others leave the state for an abortion, can be charged with conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. 3

Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in an interview that the Georgia legislation is part of a larger landscape of nearly 300 antiabortion bills introduced so far this year in 36 states. 1

Georgia's law goes into effect on 2020-JAN-01.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Emily Wax-Thibodeaux & Ariana Eunjung Cha, "Georgia governor signs ‘heartbeat bill,’ giving the state one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation," Washington Post, 2019-MAY-07, at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/
  2. Jameela Mamil, tweet, at: https://twitter.com/
  3. Moira Donegan, "Georgia's six-week abortion ban reveals the cruelty of the anti-choice movement," The Guardian, 2019-MAY-09, at: https://www.theguardian.com/

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How you may have arrived here:

Home page > "Hot" religious topics > Abortion > Laws > here

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Copyright © 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2019-MAY-15
Author: B.A. Robinson
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