A highly controversial law sparks tension as it threatens to restrict abortion in Georgia. The HB 481 bill prohibits abortion when doctors detect a heartbeat, typically occurring approximately within six weeks of pregnancy. However, most women are not aware that they are pregnant at this time. This bill currently awaits the consent of Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp. If signed, this law challenges the Roe v. Wade decision, which declares that restricting state regulation of abortion is unconstitutional.
Gov. Kemp justifies this law by tweeting, “Georgia values life. We stand up for the innocent and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. The legislature’s bold action reaffirms our priorities and who we are as a state…” Here, Gov. Kemp associates banning abortion with preserving lives since unborn children are unable to make a discussion for themselves. This reinforces the common argument proposed by “pro-life” enthusiasts that abortion is murder.
Despite this assertion, “pro-choice” supporters believe that it is ultimately up to the women to have control and make decisions regarding their bodies. To be denied this choice only disempowers women’s independence to determine their own futures. Hence, the case of abortion is very perplexing in the sense of whether a fetus is considered a human being and whether a woman’s right is more significant than a fetus’ life.
Sarah Mervosh discloses in The New York Times that the “fetal heartbeat” bill would change the abortion limit from six weeks to 20 weeks. She explains further that this bill has exceptions to protect women in cases of death and harm in the form of pregnancy being “medically futile” and rape or incest indicated by a police report. This law still continues to get backlash since terminating a child conceived by rape is the result of misdirected anger. People argue that the unborn child is also the victim of rape and has every right to live instead of being discriminated against.
Furthermore, other backlash regards the current healthcare issues already confronted by women in Georgia. In fact, according to The Georgia Department of Health, 60% of deaths involving pregnancy could be prevented with the access to proper healthcare resources. With issues such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease in Georgia, woman are at a greater risk during pregnancy.
However, Georgia is not the only state to have gone through with a restricting abortion bill. In fact, Mississippi and Kentucky also signed fetal heartbeat measures into law. Other states, such as Ohio, Texas, Florida, and Tennessee, are expected to follow through with similar measures as well.
Overall, this polarizing abortion issue primarily revolves around the political and moral aspects of abortion. Governor Kemp has until May 12 to sign or veto the law according to Mervosh. Until then, we have the right to voice our opinions regarding whether this “fetal heartbeat” law should persist.