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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.

Cases: 319948

Reported Deaths: 7371
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22285267
Hinds20719421
Harrison18431317
Rankin13901282
Jackson13718248
Madison10263224
Lee10059176
Jones8467167
Forrest7832153
Lauderdale7261242
Lowndes6517150
Lamar635188
Lafayette6313121
Washington5425137
Bolivar4841133
Panola4670110
Oktibbeha466198
Pearl River4605147
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425873
Monroe4157135
Union415777
Neshoba4063179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386987
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3371111
Alcorn327272
Scott320374
Yazoo314171
Adams308086
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298589
Tippah291968
Prentiss284161
Leake272074
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264642
Grenada264087
George252251
Newton248663
Tishomingo231868
Winston230181
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190474
Stone188433
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164134
Walthall135347
Greene131834
Lawrence131124
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127238
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108234
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548657

Reported Deaths: 11306
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810031566
Mobile42105831
Madison35690525
Tuscaloosa26173458
Shelby25607254
Montgomery25081614
Baldwin21868314
Lee16278176
Calhoun14719327
Morgan14629285
Etowah14175364
Marshall12453230
Houston10781287
Elmore10293214
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10162251
Cullman9952201
Lauderdale9603250
DeKalb8972190
Talladega8460184
Walker7338280
Autauga7241113
Blount6945139
Jackson6932113
Colbert6413140
Coffee5635127
Dale4928116
Russell454841
Chilton4476116
Franklin431382
Covington4275122
Tallapoosa4138155
Escambia401680
Chambers3728124
Dallas3607158
Clarke353061
Marion3240107
Pike314378
Lawrence3133100
Winston283472
Bibb268564
Geneva257981
Marengo250565
Pickens236962
Barbour234559
Hale227278
Butler224271
Fayette218862
Henry194543
Randolph187544
Cherokee187345
Monroe180041
Washington170539
Macon163051
Clay160059
Crenshaw155957
Cleburne153444
Lamar146837
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124342
Conecuh113630
Coosa111729
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
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