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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.

Confirmed Cases: 113081

Reported Deaths: 3231
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7823176
DeSoto676778
Harrison490283
Jackson439383
Rankin385986
Madison375793
Lee349079
Forrest298078
Jones285384
Washington253799
Lafayette244042
Lauderdale2398134
Lamar219038
Bolivar199477
Oktibbeha197654
Neshoba1820111
Lowndes175562
Panola167638
Leflore163287
Sunflower158849
Warren153255
Monroe146572
Pontotoc145219
Pike137256
Lincoln136856
Marshall136226
Copiah135736
Coahoma124036
Scott123829
Grenada120638
Yazoo119933
Simpson119549
Union116025
Leake113940
Holmes113760
Tate113639
Itawamba111325
Pearl River110559
Adams105243
Prentiss102919
Wayne99421
Alcorn96712
George95718
Covington94525
Marion93342
Tippah86521
Newton84927
Chickasaw83225
Winston82621
Tallahatchie82525
Tishomingo79741
Hancock78727
Attala78126
Clarke72750
Clay68421
Jasper67417
Walthall63327
Calhoun61812
Noxubee59617
Smith58516
Claiborne53416
Montgomery53123
Tunica52317
Yalobusha51314
Lawrence50414
Perry48423
Carroll46812
Greene45918
Stone45514
Amite42013
Humphreys41916
Quitman4176
Jefferson Davis40011
Webster36613
Wilkinson33120
Kemper32115
Benton3194
Sharkey28014
Jefferson27110
Franklin2373
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1064
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 154942

Reported Deaths: 2660
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22720374
Mobile14405314
Tuscaloosa10066137
Montgomery9820196
Madison907894
Shelby715361
Lee646165
Baldwin644369
Marshall431048
Calhoun416059
Etowah412249
Morgan400033
Houston365532
DeKalb325428
Elmore312852
St. Clair283842
Limestone273630
Walker269993
Talladega259135
Cullman231024
Lauderdale212540
Jackson205515
Autauga202130
Franklin201731
Colbert193330
Russell19053
Blount187325
Dallas186027
Chilton182632
Escambia171428
Coffee16829
Covington166629
Dale163851
Chambers133043
Pike131313
Tallapoosa129587
Clarke127317
Marion105029
Butler99840
Barbour9969
Marengo98222
Winston90613
Geneva8447
Lawrence81131
Pickens81117
Randolph80514
Bibb80114
Hale74830
Cherokee72314
Clay72212
Lowndes70228
Henry6386
Bullock63717
Monroe63610
Washington62312
Crenshaw59830
Perry5816
Wilcox55912
Fayette55713
Conecuh55613
Cleburne5327
Macon53020
Sumter46821
Lamar4595
Choctaw38712
Greene34016
Coosa1993
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