Lately, for every victory in the fight for reproductive rights, it seems like we take another step back toward a pre-Roe v. Wade era. One of the most common ways that conservative states have tried to limit reproductive rights is through “heartbeat” abortion bills, which outlaw abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected (which happens at about six weeks). And now, yet another state is trying to pass one of these dangerous bills. CNN reports that in Georgia, a fetal heartbeat bill has passed a House committee, meaning that it will now go to the House floor for debate.
As CNN notes, the latest bill, called House Bill 481, or the “Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act,” would be a huge change for Georgia, where abortion is currently legal up to 20 weeks into a pregnancy. The proposed legislation would allow abortions after six weeks only if the pregnant person’s life is at risk. The Associated Press reports that it also includes exceptions in cases of rape or incest.
The state’s House of Representatives could vote on the bill as early as today, March 7th. If it clears the House, it will then head to the Senate, after which the governor could either sign it into law or veto it. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s campaign website is clear about his support for pro-life legislation and even states that he was the only gubernatorial candidate “to signal support” for a comparable bill that recently passed in Iowa.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds became the first to sign a heartbeat bill into law in May 2018. But as the Associated Press reports, in January, a state judge declared the law unconstitutional, blocking it from taking effect. Still, other states continue to attempt to pass similarly draconian abortion legislation. Kentucky introduced a heartbeat bill in January, and according to Rewire News, several more states, including Missouri, Florida, Tennessee, Ohio, Mississippi, and Texas have proposed bills, too.
As the American Pregnancy Association notes, most people find out they’re pregnant four to seven weeks into the pregnancy—after a fetal heartbeat is usually detectable. For this reason, bills like HB 481 could severely restrict, or even effectively outlaw, abortion, depriving women of this extremely personal choice. If this is alarming to you, there are definitely ways to take action. If you live in Georgia and oppose this bill, contact your elected officials and let them know ASAP.