With a stroke of a pen Tuesday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp basically outlawed abortions in his state, signing into law the so-called heartbeat bill.
The heartbeat bill, aka Georgia House Bill 481, outlaws abortions after the first sign of a fetal heartbeat, which can occur as soon as six weeks into a pregnancy — often before a woman even realizes that she is pregnant.
Exceptions will be made in cases of rape or incest — but only if a woman files a police report first — or to save the life of the mother, the Associated Press reports.
“I’m signing this bill to ensure all Georgians have the opportunity to live, grow, learn and prosper in the great state of Georgia,” Kemp said.
The law, which is to take effect Jan. 1, is among the most restrictive abortion legislation in the nation, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and it already has activists gearing to battle it in court.
Staci Fox, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, said she had one message for Kemp, the AP reports: “We will see you, sir, in court.”
Sean Young, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, also vowed that his group would sue to have the law overturned.
“Under 50 years of Supreme Court precedent, this abortion ban is clearly unconstitutional,” Young told AP.
But as the AJC explains, Georgia’s law is among more than a dozen pieces of similar legislation in Republican-run states around the nation, all supported in hopes of overturning the nation’s historic pro-choice law, Roe v. Wade:
At least 15 states, ranging from Maryland to Texas, are considering versions of “heartbeat” legislation in 2019.
Governors in Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio all have signed similar “heartbeat bills.” A federal judge has already issued a preliminary injunction against the Kentucky law, and similar laws enacted in recent years in Iowa and North Dakota have also been struck down in the courts.
Alabama is considering an even stricter bill that would make it a felony to perform abortions in almost all cases. Abortions could be performed only if the woman’s life is at risk.
In Georgia, the new law’s sponsor, Republican state Rep. Ed Setzler, “called the bill a ‘common sense’ measure that seeks to ‘balance the difficult circumstances women find themselves in with the basic right to life of a child,’” the AP reported.
The law allows for “alimony, child support and even income tax deductions for fetuses, declaring that ‘the full value of a child begins at the point when a detectable human heartbeat exists.’”
But opposing lawmakers said women will die if this law remains in effect.
As Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan told the AP, “It’s an all-out abortion ban.
“It’s about the unintended consequences,” she continued. “They’re making policy choices that are going to end up causing women to die, and they’re preventable deaths.”