Georgia Provokes Global Condemnation As 'Heartbeat Bill' Seeks To Make Abortion Illegal After Six Weeks
Dubbed the 'Heartbeat Bill', the law - which ultimately seeks to restrict women's control of their own bodies - is scheduled to come into effect in Georgia on 1st January 2020 and has been signed by Governor Brian Kemp.
Many women do not know they are pregnant until after six weeks with symptoms including morning sickness usually starting after the nine-week mark.
And as New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez points out on Twitter: ""6 weeks pregnant" = 2 weeks late on your period."
The new law prohibits abortions upon detection of a foetal heartbeat, which can occur at as early as six weeks.
Some exceptions exist for cases involving fatal deformities, threats to the mother's life, or cases of rape or incest in which a police report was filed. The law also states that a foetus can be used as grounds for as a tax deduction, like children.
Celebrities around the world are pledging to boycott the state of Georgia if the bill goes ahead, including actress and #MeToo activist Alyssa Milano, who has joined a so-called 'sex strike' in protest.
Our reproductive rights are being erased.
Until women have legal control over our own bodies we just cannot risk pregnancy.
JOIN ME by not having sex until we get bodily autonomy back.
I'm calling for a #SexStrike. Pass it on. pic.twitter.com/uOgN4FKwpg
- Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) May 11, 2019
John Oliver dedicated the opening portion of his HBO show Last Week Tonight to Georgia's fetal 'heartbeat law', dubbing it a "draconian bill" and tearing apart public figures who are backing it.
"First," Oliver said, "'Tax breaks begin at conception' may be literally the most Republican law ever created. And second, it's pretty egregious to only make an exception for rape or incest 'where a police report was filed.'
If a doctor carries out an abortion when are able to detect a fetal heartbeat, they could face 99 years in prison. And if the woman miscarries the child, they could face questioning, too.
A number of other stars and production companies have voiced their own opposition to the bill - Alyssa shared a list of 50 celebrities, including Christina Applegate, Alec Baldwin, Gabrielle Union, Uzo Aduba and more who signed the an open letter opposing the bill.
To @BrianKempGA & Speaker Ralston:
Attached, is an open letter signed by 50 actors against #HB481. On behalf of the undersigned--as people often called to work in GA or those of us contractually bound to work in GA--we hope you'll reconsider signing this bill. #HBIsBadForBusiness pic.twitter.com/DsOmAWYU2x
- Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) March 28, 2019
Georgia's "heartbeat bill" is aimed at stripping away a woman's right to choose. All women deserve the right to a safe, affordable abortion. Abortion is healthcare, plain and simple. https://t.co/d3DR1iiQel
- Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) May 7, 2019
Under the new fetal heartbeat bill, a Georgia woman who travels out of state to obtain a legal abortion could be charged with conspiracy to commit murder and face ten years in prison.
I am chilled to the bone. pic.twitter.com/pUSE56iIAR
- Jessica Knoll (@JessMKnoll) May 8, 2019
To my home state of Georgia: You raised me, you made me who I am, and I love you unconditionally. Also your #HeartbeatBill is heartbreakingly insane (see linked article). Until it is gone, my production company will not be doing business in Georgia. https://t.co/34sZx7pQOG
- Ed Helms (@edhelms) May 12, 2019
I'm sorry, but there is no conceivable way that I can, as an employer, ethically ask any of my female colleagues to work in a jurisdiction that limits their health care options and impairs their civil liberties. It isn't possible. https://t.co/YxGCAfXC45
- David Simon (@AoDespair) May 10, 2019
Mandatory vasectomies until you want to have children.
They can be reversed, so.
Come on guys, Lets save lives! Whats that? A hard no? Why? Cause its your body and we dont get to make that choice for you? Ooooooohhhhhh!!!
- #EvanRachelWould (@evanrachelwood) May 10, 2019
But above all of this, what might be more shocking is that six US states have now signed 'Heartbeat Bills' .
Georgia could be joining Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota and Ohio on that list. None of these laws have been enacted as they've either been blocked by a judge or haven't taken effect.
A federal judge blocked the similar law in Kentucky as it could be unconstitutional and Mississippi's equivalent is also facing challenges. The governor vetoed a the 'Heartbeat Bill' in Ohio in 2016.
Georgia's law is also expected to face the same issues in the courts.
And while the legal challenges do give women a glimmer of hope that these laws might never become reality, they still pose a legitimate threat we have a right to be concerned about.
Featured Image Credit: PA