Legislation to Enact New Abortion Law


Emily Dozier, Staff Writer

Georgia’s legislature has sent a new and strict abortion law to Governor Brian Kemp. Known as Georgia’s Living Infants Fairness and Equality (Life) Act, or HB 481, the bill prohibits women from obtaining an abortion after the fetus’s heartbeat is detected. This typically occurs six weeks into pregnancy-before most women even realize they’re pregnant or can contact a medical provider. It reduces the limit on abortion by 14 weeks, but allows exceptions to incest and rape where a police report has been filed, further re-victimizing women. It also allows the procedure in cases of death or serious harm to the mother or if the fetus is not viable after birth. The father is additionally required to pay child support to assist in the mother’s costs of pregnancy.

With an intent to overturn Roe vs. Wade, Georgia takes after similar initiatives brought to light in Texas, Ohio, Kentucky, and Florida. Since the landmark case, over 1,000 restrictions have been placed on abortion in order to slow the women’s right. Supporters of the bill are hoping it will gain enough traction to go to the Supreme Court. However, it’s already expecting lawsuits, such as one from the ACLU and Planned Parenthood Southeast. Many opposers argue that, if taken to the Supreme Court, Roe vs. Wade should be treated as settled law and thus go unchanged. Fortunately, previous efforts to overrule Roe vs. Wade in court have been unsuccessful; Kentucky’s heartbeat bill was overruled, while Iowa and North Dakota’s was found unconstitutional.

While the new law would be one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, Georgia faces a shortage of obstetricians and has one of the highest maternal death rates in the country. Ed Setzler, a Republican lawmaker in Atlanta, claims that it is “impossible” for a woman to be unaware she is pregnant due to home pregnancy tests and missed menstrual cycles. An Emory professor, Melissa Kottke, summarizes that, “Having medical care directed by lawmakers is extremely dangerous.” The bill would additionally hurt Georgia’s growing movie business, as many Hollywood stars, such as Alyssa Milano, Amy Schumer, Gabrielle Union, and Ben Stiller, have already written to Governor Kemp and stated that they would no longer work in the state if HB 481 was passed.

The heartbeat bill was sent to Georgia’s House to be voted on throughout the month of March before gaining enough votes on March 29th to send the law to the governor. Needing 91 Yea’s, vote #343 passed the test 92-78. Governor Kemp has until May 12th to officially sign it into action, but he is expected to do so before the deadline.