GOP state lawmakers approve 'heartbeat' abortion bans

MGN Online

Georgia and Tennessee joined a string of states moving to enact tough abortion restrictions when Republican House lawmakers passed bans on most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

Posted: Mar 8, 2019 4:56 PM

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia and Tennessee joined a string of states moving to enact tough abortion restrictions when Republican House lawmakers passed bans on most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

During a tense debate in Atlanta on Thursday, several Democratic lawmakers opposed to the bill turned their backs to its author, Republican Rep. Ed Setzler. Earlier in the day, some Democratic lawmakers brought in wire coat hangers in reference to unsafe home abortions.

Setzler said his bill "seeks to recognize that the child in the womb, that is living distinct from their mother, has a right to life that is worthy of legal protection."

The Tennessee House passed similar legislation earlier Thursday after its Republican supermajority forced an end to debate without letting some Democrats speak. Several other states including Mississippi, Florida, Kentucky, Ohio and South Carolina are also considering this type of legislation.

If the measures in Georgia and Tennessee win Senate approval and are signed into law, they would trigger immediate legal challenges.

Several women held a silent protest on the steps of Georgia's Capitol on Friday dressed as characters from "The Handmaid's Tale," which depicts a dystopian future where women are controlled by the government and forcibly used for breeding purposes.

Abortion opponents across the country are hopeful the U.S. Supreme Court — with new Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — will either reverse Roe v. Wade, or uphold specific state laws that could undermine the court's 1973 ruling establishing the right of women to abort a fetus that can't survive outside the womb.

Democratic Rep. Renitta Shannon, speaking against the bill and about her own past abortion, went over time and her microphone was cut off. She refused to yield the floor until colleagues surrounded her and implored her to walk away.

Before her microphone was cut, Shannon spoke about the illegal and unsafe abortion options women faced before Roe v. Wade.

"Let's be clear, no matter what kind of law you pass to outlaw abortions, women will continue to seek and have abortions," Shannon said.

Women in Georgia can currently seek an abortion during the first 20 weeks of a pregnancy. A fetal heartbeat is generally detectable at around six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant.

The bill would make exceptions in the case of rape and incest, but only when the woman files a police report first. It also allows for abortions when the fetus is determined to be not compatible with life due to serious medical issues.

Setzler previously said he had "misgivings" about those exceptions, saying that "those children are just as innocent as others."

Republican Rep. Darlene Taylor asked a rhetorical question: "Who speaks for baby fetus?"

"Today I do," Taylor answered, as she read a prepared speech as if she was a baby fetus that did not want to be aborted.

Democratic Rep. Mike Wilensky said the bill clearly violates the constitution.

"We know that this bill is unconstitutional. We know that there are going to be huge costs to litigate this," Wilensky said.

The fast-tracked bill came to the floor in the final minutes before a legislative deadline by which bills must generally pass out of one house or the other to remain in play for the session.

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who pledged as a candidate to sign the toughest abortion laws in the country, endorsed the proposal in a news conference after its passage in the House, but said there is more work to be done in the Senate.

"I value life and I proudly support this legislation, which protects the right of the unborn at the heartbeat," Kemp said.

Republican Gov. Bill Lee has said he would sign the Tennessee bill, downplaying constitutional concerns as an issue for the courts, not his office.

Democrats and abortion-rights advocates say they'll continue to fight the bill and for safe access to abortion in Georgia.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 268672

Reported Deaths: 5917
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17928195
Hinds17030337
Harrison14510212
Rankin11315223
Jackson11054193
Lee9109147
Madison8663171
Jones6853120
Forrest6260125
Lauderdale6161196
Lowndes5582123
Lafayette5269101
Lamar508765
Washington4965125
Bolivar4164110
Oktibbeha411585
Panola389881
Pontotoc380460
Monroe3727111
Warren3716103
Marshall360172
Union360165
Pearl River3527106
Neshoba3516158
Leflore3132110
Lincoln308389
Hancock300963
Sunflower294277
Tate281862
Alcorn274055
Pike272984
Itawamba271263
Scott264055
Yazoo258456
Prentiss255454
Coahoma252455
Copiah251549
Tippah251551
Simpson244872
Leake238967
Marion228274
Covington224873
Grenada224673
Wayne216336
Adams216271
Winston208271
George206440
Newton201447
Attala197465
Tishomingo196361
Chickasaw190245
Jasper183138
Holmes172568
Clay168637
Tallahatchie158035
Stone153625
Clarke148762
Calhoun142022
Smith131926
Yalobusha124935
Walthall115438
Greene114929
Noxubee114526
Montgomery112936
Lawrence107917
Carroll106922
Perry105931
Amite102727
Webster98024
Claiborne90125
Tunica89621
Jefferson Davis89330
Benton86923
Humphreys85625
Kemper81220
Quitman7169
Franklin71017
Choctaw64013
Wilkinson60125
Jefferson57321
Sharkey45717
Issaquena1616
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 445909

Reported Deaths: 6896
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson651891049
Mobile32138590
Madison28596223
Tuscaloosa21703276
Montgomery20220336
Shelby19584138
Baldwin17496216
Lee13378109
Morgan12741145
Etowah12196189
Calhoun11626228
Marshall10513126
Houston9097168
Limestone842481
Cullman8363125
Elmore8283112
Lauderdale7986112
DeKalb7935112
St. Clair7915139
Talladega6552112
Walker6068184
Jackson605649
Colbert560194
Blount551794
Autauga544065
Coffee470569
Dale415186
Franklin378150
Russell362816
Chilton348079
Covington344681
Escambia342244
Tallapoosa3184109
Dallas314197
Chambers308575
Clarke307339
Pike267735
Lawrence256958
Marion255763
Winston235243
Bibb224751
Geneva214747
Marengo212031
Pickens201831
Barbour188240
Hale187444
Fayette181230
Butler175960
Cherokee167433
Henry161325
Monroe153521
Randolph148236
Washington144027
Clay131050
Crenshaw126245
Macon124337
Cleburne123627
Lamar121324
Lowndes117636
Wilcox109422
Bullock105829
Perry100518
Conecuh98222
Sumter90828
Greene78323
Coosa64619
Choctaw52224
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