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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: 63444

Reported Deaths: 1804
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5329110
DeSoto338727
Madison232460
Harrison222833
Rankin216830
Jackson206338
Jones180457
Forrest165353
Washington152433
Lauderdale135488
Lee127430
Neshoba123288
Lamar114613
Oktibbeha106036
Lowndes99932
Bolivar98732
Warren97630
Scott96219
Panola93611
Sunflower92623
Copiah92426
Lafayette88512
Leflore86660
Holmes85148
Pike84632
Grenada81621
Yazoo79311
Leake77125
Lincoln75641
Pontotoc7527
Wayne73621
Simpson72328
Monroe71650
Coahoma67710
Tate66524
Marion62519
Covington60112
Adams58725
Marshall5858
Winston58415
George5495
Union53814
Newton52611
Attala50224
Pearl River49637
Tallahatchie49610
Walthall46318
Chickasaw44319
Noxubee42611
Claiborne40113
Jasper3859
Smith38513
Calhoun3819
Clay37413
Alcorn3634
Prentiss3516
Hancock34414
Tishomingo3394
Itawamba31710
Tippah31612
Lawrence3155
Yalobusha31310
Clarke31025
Montgomery2973
Tunica2926
Humphreys27411
Carroll24811
Quitman2331
Greene23211
Kemper22715
Perry2267
Jefferson Davis2146
Amite2116
Webster20112
Jefferson1936
Wilkinson18813
Sharkey1831
Stone1593
Benton1300
Choctaw1294
Franklin1172
Issaquena211
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 91776

Reported Deaths: 1639
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12039228
Mobile9170197
Montgomery6305147
Madison508227
Tuscaloosa398466
Baldwin326323
Shelby307532
Marshall298433
Unassigned281255
Lee251940
Morgan224315
Etowah195728
DeKalb171813
Elmore162637
Calhoun159012
Walker147464
Houston132712
Dallas129423
Russell12471
St. Clair123612
Limestone120813
Franklin120620
Cullman115711
Colbert110712
Lauderdale109512
Autauga103020
Escambia97915
Talladega92713
Jackson8704
Chambers82838
Tallapoosa82278
Dale78722
Butler75135
Blount7413
Chilton7226
Coffee7165
Covington71520
Pike6607
Barbour5635
Lowndes55824
Marion54724
Marengo52614
Clarke4879
Hale45726
Bullock44111
Winston43211
Perry4314
Wilcox4089
Monroe3954
Randolph39110
Bibb3813
Conecuh37210
Pickens3719
Sumter35918
Lawrence3240
Washington31412
Macon31113
Crenshaw2973
Choctaw27612
Cherokee2477
Henry2463
Greene24511
Geneva2420
Clay2235
Lamar2032
Fayette1765
Cleburne1211
Coosa922
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