Georgia Joins List Of States To Sign 'Fetal Heartbeat' Abortion Law

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In this photo provided by the Georgia Port Authority, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. (Stephen Morton/Georgia Ports Authority via AP)
In this photo provided by the Georgia Port Authority, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. (Stephen Morton/Georgia Ports Authority via AP)

With Meghna Chakrabarti

Georgia is the latest state to effectively ban abortions as soon as a heartbeat is detectable, which typically occurs about six weeks into pregnancy. We look at similar bills and laws in other states, and the legal challenges already in the courts.


Stephen Fowler, political reporter for Georgia Public Broadcasting. (@stphnfwlr)

Staci Fox, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast. (@StaciFox)

Joshua Edmonds, director of Georgia Life Alliance. He helped draft and pass the legislation as a lobbyist. (@GaLifeAlliance)

Mary Ziegler, professor at Florida State University College of Law. Author of "After Roe: The Lost History of the Abortion Debate" and "Abortion in America: A Legal History, Roe v. Wade to the Present." (@Mary_zieglerfsu)

From The Reading List

Vox: "The 'heartbeat' bills that could ban almost all abortions, explained" — "Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday signed into law a so-called 'heartbeat' bill, banning abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy. Georgia is the fourth state to pass such a law this year alone.

"The bills prohibit abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. But reproductive rights advocates and doctors say the laws, which prohibit abortion before many women know they are pregnant, amount to a near-total ban on the procedure.

"'It’s basically a forced pregnancy bill. It’s a health care ban bill,' said Dr. Krystal Redman, the executive director of Spark Reproductive Justice Now, a group that works on reproductive rights and other issues for women of color and queer and trans people in the South.

"But for some supporters of the bills, banning nearly all abortions isn’t a problem — it’s the whole point."

Kaiser Health News: "‘Heartbeat Bills’ Give State Lawmakers Pause On Anti-Abortion Tactics" — "In anticipation of a new anti-abortion tilt on the Supreme Court bench, some states are moving to further restrict the procedure during the first trimester of pregnancy or to outlaw abortion entirely if Roe v. Wade ever falls. But the rush to regulate has exposed division among groups and lawmakers who consider themselves staunch abortion opponents.

"On Thursday, Ohio became the latest state to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. For a long time, Ohio Right to Life supported a more gradual approach to restrict the procedure and deemed what’s come to be called a “heartbeat bill” too radical — until this year. Restricting abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected basically bans the procedure after six weeks of gestation — before many women know they’re pregnant.

"'We see the court as being much more favorable to pro-life legislation than it has been in a generation,' spokeswoman Jamieson Gordon said. 'So we figured this would be a good time to pursue the heartbeat bill as the next step in our incremental approach to end abortion-on-demand.' "

CNN: "Courts say anti-abortion 'heartbeat bills' are unconstitutional. So why do they keep coming?" — "Time and again, when it's introduced in a state legislature, the bill is touted as the most restrictive in the nation. It's often referred to as a 'heartbeat bill' and seeks to ban abortions at the time when a fetus' heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — before many women even know that they are pregnant.

"But just as often as they are introduced, these bills get stymied. They are held up in committees, rejected in legislative votes, vetoed by governors and struck down in courts. Not one state has managed to put a heartbeat bill into lasting practice.
In the past few weeks alone, lawmakers in Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Arkansas, Minnesota and Tennessee introduced fetal heartbeat legislation.

"Meanwhile, on January 22, an Iowa judge struck down its state heartbeat bill, declaring it unconstitutional.

"That decision happened to come down on the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.
So what is going on? If the bills flatline over and over again, why do lawmakers keep revitalizing them?"

Grace Tatter produced this hour for broadcast.

This program aired on May 9, 2019.



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