Georgia's governor signs a controversial abortion bill into law

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signs a bill into law that bans abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

Posted: May 8, 2019 7:13 AM
Updated: May 8, 2019 12:48 PM


Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday signed a bill that would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected -- a law that the American Civil Liberties Union says it will challenge in court.

Currently in Georgia, women are allowed to undergo abortion procedures up to their 20th week of pregnancy. Starting on January 1, the bill Kemp signed generally would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy -- when many women don't yet know they're pregnant.

'(The bill) is very simple but also very powerful: a declaration that all life has value, that all life matters, and that all life is worthy of protection,' Kemp, flanked by supporters of the bill, said Tuesday morning before signing the legislation at the state Capitol.

'I realize that some may challenge it in a court of law. But our job is to do what is right, not what is easy. We are called to be strong and courageous, and we will not back down. We will always continue to fight for life.'

The legislation says that 'no abortion is authorized or shall be performed if the unborn child has been determined to have a human heartbeat.' It includes some exceptions, including if the pregnancy risks the life or poses substantial and irreversible physical harm to the pregnant woman.

Proponents, such as the Republican author, state Rep. Ed Setzler, say abortion is a 'barbaric procedure' and that many other options exist for women, including adoption and the 'morning after' pill.

Critics, including the ACLU, say Georgia's legislation 'would ban safe, legal abortion and criminalize the most intimate decision women and couples make.'

Outside the Capitol, dozens protested the legislation Tuesday morning -- including four women dressed in red cloaks in the style of 'The Handmaid's Tale.' Those four stood in silent protest, holding signs with various messages, including 'Trust Women.'

Another protester, Gloria Tatum, held a sign reading, 'Say no to Republican and anti-woman sexist laws.'

Tatum said that if supporters of bills such as this have their way, Roe v. Wade will be overturned and access to abortion will be gone.

Women are not going to take it, she said.

'They will get a revolution in this country like they've never seen before, because we are not going back,' said Tatum, 76, of Decatur, Georgia.

ACLU and Planned Parenthood say legislation will be challenged

Andrea Young, the executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, told CNN the organization is in the process of preparing a court challenge to the bill. She said the ACLU believes it's a clear violation of Roe v. Wade.

'Today's women can only thrive in a state that protects their most basic rights -- the right to choose when and whether to start a family. Georgia can't afford to go backward on women's health and rights,' Young said in a written statement Tuesday. 'We will act to block this assault on women's health, rights and self-determination.'

Staci Fox, CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, said she had a few messages.

To Georgia's governor, she said, 'We will see you in court.'

To the lawmakers who supported the bill, she said, 'We are coming for their seats.'

An anti-abortion group says it withdrew support of the law over exceptions

One anti-abortion group told CNN on Monday it no longer supports the so-called heartbeat bill because it does not go far enough.

Genevieve Wilson, executive director of Georgia Right to Life, said the group 'believes in promoting social justice for all preborn children, without exception.'

The bill includes some exceptions for situations of medical futility or where the mother's health is at risk as well as in cases of rape or incest before the 20-week mark, if an official police report has been filed.

Wilson said those exceptions are 'discriminatory and wrong' and create 'a two-tiered framework for determining which children in the womb are allowed to live and which are not.'

She said the group supported the bill until the exceptions were added during the legislative process.

Georgia's Republican-majority state House passed House Bill 481, called the Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act, with a 92-78 vote on March 29.

Several states have similar legislation

Legislators in other states have pursued similar bills. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill into law in March that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed similar legislation in April.

But many times such bills are held up in committees, rejected in legislative votes, vetoed by governors and struck down in courts. No state has been able to put a so-called heartbeat bill into lasting practice.

In January, an Iowa judge struck down that state's fetal heartbeat bill, declaring it unconstitutional. The US Supreme Court has previously declined to weigh in after lower courts blocked bills in North Dakota and Arkansas.

Georgia's film industry could be affected

Actress Alyssa Milano has staunchly opposed the bill and had urged the film and TV industry, which shoots many projects in Georgia, to get out of the state if it becomes law. She used a hashtag on Twitter that says #HB481IsBad ForBusiness.

'There are over 20 productions shooting in GA & the state just voted to strip women of their bodily autonomy,' she said in a March tweet. 'Hollywood! We should stop feeding GA economy.'

The Writers Guild of America East and West also condemned HB481, saying it 'would make Georgia an inhospitable place for those in the film and television industry.'

'It is entirely possible that many of those in our industry will either want to leave the state or decide not to bring productions there,' the Writers Guild said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 245847

Reported Deaths: 5356
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto16717168
Hinds15748310
Harrison12806188
Rankin10334204
Jackson9996172
Lee8666135
Madison7994158
Jones6112108
Forrest5826117
Lauderdale5672174
Lowndes5186106
Lafayette482792
Lamar471162
Washington4700122
Bolivar3915105
Oktibbeha384279
Panola357274
Pontotoc356552
Monroe3463101
Union334755
Warren334692
Marshall333264
Neshoba3310149
Pearl River313891
Leflore2969104
Lincoln290185
Sunflower275868
Tate264759
Alcorn257850
Itawamba257058
Pike254876
Hancock246957
Prentiss240047
Scott238743
Copiah235649
Yazoo235054
Tippah233845
Simpson230166
Leake226764
Coahoma219054
Grenada213970
Covington207171
Marion203371
Adams200065
Winston196260
George195937
Wayne193029
Attala190958
Newton185142
Chickasaw179943
Tishomingo179059
Holmes167467
Jasper163533
Clay155632
Stone138818
Tallahatchie137033
Clarke135160
Calhoun132021
Smith117322
Yalobusha112534
Walthall110536
Noxubee108922
Greene108229
Montgomery107134
Carroll102320
Lawrence99817
Perry98631
Amite95725
Webster90024
Claiborne84125
Tunica84021
Jefferson Davis82925
Humphreys80324
Benton79722
Kemper75620
Quitman6678
Franklin64613
Choctaw59412
Wilkinson57424
Jefferson52019
Sharkey42317
Issaquena1576
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 414583

Reported Deaths: 5945
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson60842887
Mobile29590538
Madison26466183
Tuscaloosa20537267
Montgomery18562304
Shelby18181112
Baldwin15841177
Lee1212097
Morgan12002112
Etowah11488142
Calhoun10863197
Marshall10048106
Houston8405123
Cullman792294
Limestone785073
Elmore7670101
DeKalb757282
St. Clair7417120
Lauderdale740282
Talladega6036108
Walker5834176
Jackson571937
Colbert522270
Blount521980
Autauga507555
Coffee431456
Dale388278
Franklin362145
Chilton332965
Covington325567
Russell318910
Escambia309842
Dallas297988
Chambers275769
Clarke272933
Tallapoosa2591107
Pike245829
Lawrence239345
Marion238649
Winston222535
Bibb211347
Geneva196331
Marengo196329
Pickens195331
Hale172542
Barbour169636
Butler166958
Fayette164026
Cherokee158330
Henry149219
Monroe143617
Randolph137635
Washington135426
Clay124446
Crenshaw117444
Lamar116819
Cleburne115123
Macon111935
Lowndes107935
Wilcox99921
Bullock97128
Perry95019
Conecuh92820
Sumter89126
Greene75123
Coosa59814
Choctaw50824
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