Georgia Governor signs Heartbeat abortion ban
Georgia's Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation on Tuesday banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. That can be as early as six weeks before many women know they're pregnant.
Anti-abortion activists and lawmakers across the country, are pushing abortion bans in defiance of a 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion nationwide until a fetus is developed enough to live outside a woman's uterus.
Under current law, women in Georgia can seek an abortion during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. If it's not blocked in court, the new ban would take effect Jan. 1, 2020.
HB 481 makes exceptions in the case of rape and incest — if the woman files a police report first — and to save the life of the mother. It also would allow for abortions when a fetus is determined not to be viable because of serious medical issues.
In the first few months of 2019, "heartbeat abortion" bans have been signed into law in four states: Mississippi, Kentucky, Ohio, and now Georgia. Lawmakers in a number of other states including Tennessee, Missouri, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and West Virginia are considering similar proposals. A bill that recently passed the Alabama House would outlaw abortions at any stage of pregnancy, with a few narrow exceptions.
Kentucky's law was immediately challenged by the ACLU after it was signed in March, and a federal judge temporarily blocked it.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, about 33,000 abortions were provided in Georgia in 2014.