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Georgia’s six-week abortion law goes into effect; critics say law is dangerous

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Georgia’s six-week abortion law goes into effect; critics say law is dangerous

Audrey Watson and Zoe Mueller protest the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade outside the Georgia State Capitol on Friday, June 24, 2022. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Atlanta, GA — Georgia’s restrictive abortion law has gone into effect following a federal appeals court ruling on Wednesday, July 20.

The law bans most abortions once fetal cardiac activity is detected. This is usually around six weeks of pregnancy and before most women know they are pregnant. House Bill 481 narrowly passed the Georgia General Assembly in 2019, according to the Georgia Recorder.

Before the court’s decision, abortion was legal up to 22 weeks in some cases in Georgia.

The ruling came about a month after the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, leaving the states to decide whether to limit access to abortion. During the Supreme Court’s proceedings, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals paused it deliberations last year awaiting a decision on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, the Georgia Recorder reported.

Georgia’s law has been on hold since 2020. It also redefines “natural person” to include the unborn and other personhood provisions. The law allows expecting parents to claim their unborn child as a dependent, requires the father to pay child support during pregnancy, and deems an unborn child to be a “natural person,” according to Georgia Recorder.

Gov. Brian Kemp said in a statement on Twitter that since he took office in 2019, his family has committed to serving the state in a way that “cherishes and values each and every human being,” and the circuit court’s decision “affirms our promise to protect live at all stages.”

Democratic nominee for governor, Stacey Abrams, said that Gov. Brian Kemp made banning abortion is top priority in 2019.

“[On Wednesday], Kemp achieved his goal: to endanger women, strip away our right to choose, and deny our ability to determine what is best for our bodies,” Abrams said in a press release. “Doctors and healthcare workers agree that this law will be deadly for women across our state. While the six-week abortion ban has taken over three years to take effect, the impact is clear: women are now second-class citizens in Kemp’s Georgia.”

“In a state that is already first in maternal mortality, sixth highest in infant mortality, and one of twelve states that refuses to expand Medicaid and provide health care to low-income communities, this ruling cements the failures of this administration and devastates the realities of women,” she added.

The ruling will affect women across racial and socioeconomic lines, Abrams said.

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff said the law is an overreach by the state.

“The Georgia legislature’s six-week abortion ban is draconian, cruel, and a gross overreach by the state into the private health care decisions of Georgia women,” Ossoff said. “Women and their health care providers in Georgia may now be subject to criminal prosecution over intensely personal and complex medical decisions. I call on Georgia’s State Legislature immediately to repeal this law.”

The Democratic Party of Georgia noted that the law outlaws care before most women know they are pregnant and makes most abortion in the state illegal, according to a press release.

“Kemp’s dangerous law has severe consequences for women and doctors, who could be thrown in jail for seeking or providing reproductive care,” U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams (GA-5), chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia, said. “We can’t take this sitting down — we know the governor and Georgia Republicans want to go even further and outlaw abortion with no exceptions for victims of rape or incest.”

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