Georgia becomes latest state to sign so-called 'heartbeat' abortion ban

PHOTO: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signs legislation banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, in Atlanta, May 7, 2019.PlayBob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP
WATCH Georgia signs bill into law banning abortion after 6 weeks

Georgia is the latest state to sign a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, although it immediately prompted a legal challenge.

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The law bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

All other states where so-called "heartbeat" bans have been put in place have faced legal battles, meaning no state has a six-week ban currently enacted.

Georgia is the fourth state to pass such a law this year, after Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp acknowledged the possible legal trouble ahead shortly before signing the bill into law Tuesday.

"I realize that some may challenge it in a court of law but our job is to do what is right not what is easy," Kemp said.

PHOTO: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp shakes hands with state Sen. Renee Unterman after signing legislation banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, in Atlanta, May 7, 2019. Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp shakes hands with state Sen. Renee Unterman after signing legislation banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, in Atlanta, May 7, 2019.

Planned Parenthood released a statement moments after the bill was signed saying they intend to file a lawsuit to stop it from going into effect.

"Planned Parenthood will be suing the State of Georgia. We will fight this terrible bill because this is about our patients' lives," said Dr. Leana Wen, the president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

The Georgia chapter of the American College of Obstetricians Gynecologists released a statement saying that the law leaves them “gravely concerned for the health and well-being of women and families across Georgia.”

PHOTO: Abortion rights protesters rally outside of the Georgia State Capitol building following the signing of HB 481, in Atlanta, May 7, 2019. Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP
Abortion rights protesters rally outside of the Georgia State Capitol building following the signing of HB 481, in Atlanta, May 7, 2019.

Before the signing, Kemp and supporters of the law said it is an effort to stand up for "life."

"As you all know, Georgia is a state that values life," Kemp said.

"We're called to be strong and courageous, and we will not back down. We will always continue to fight for life," Kemp said.

This bill was signed after months of widespread debate and high-profile protests, including from the Writers Guild of America East and West, which released a statement in March condemning the "draconian anti-choice measure."

The guild said if passed, "this law would make Georgia an inhospitable place for those in the film and television industry to work, including our members."

The guild has not released an update in the wake of the bill becoming law and did not immediately return ABC News' requests for comment.

In addition to the three other states that passed similar so-called "heartbeat bans" this year, made similar moves in previous years. Those, too, have not been put into practice as a result of legal challenges.

PHOTO: SIX WEEK ABORTION BANS IN 2019 ABC NEWS
SIX WEEK ABORTION BANS IN 2019

Georgia's move is the latest in a series of anti-abortion legislative movement across states. Sixteen states had a six-week abortion ban either filed, moved or signed into law in the first three months of 2019, Planned Parenthood Action Fund reported in mid-April.

In Alabama, the state House of Representatives passed a bill criminalizing providing abortions without restrictions for cases of rape or incest, and the state Senate is set to debate it in coming days or weeks.

The sponsor of that bill told ABC News she hopes the bill is challenged, with the intention that it gets picked up by the Supreme Court to potentially be used to overturn the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade that made abortion a protected right nationwide.

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