Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia signed into law Tuesday the “Heartbeat” abortion bill than bans most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
The law, dubbed the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act (HB 481), prohibits abortions in the state after a heartbeat is detected, usually at about six weeks of pregnancy. Cases of rape, incest, or if the life of the mother is in danger are exceptions to the law.
State Rep. Ed Setzler, who sponsored the bill, said it “seeks to recognize that the child in the womb that is living distinct from their mother has a right of life that is worthy of protection.”
Georgia Senate Science and Technology Chairwoman Renee Unterman, who sponsored the bill in that chamber, said, “We are not like New York or Virginia. We will not throw away children who aren’t perfect because all children are perfect in the eyes of God.”
In March, after the bill was approved by the Georgia House, Kemp said in a statement, “Georgia is a state that values life.”
“This is a powerful moment in Georgia,” the governor said. “It’s bigger than politics and partisanship. Let’s champion life today and ensure that all Georgians – including the unborn – have the chance to live, grow, and prosper.”
The measure, however, was the subject of much controversy as it worked its way through the legislature.
Later today, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is poised to sign the nation’s sixth six-week abortion ban into law despite massive public outcry. State @senatorjen breaks down what's at stake when bans like these pass and lawmakers try to legislate our bodies. #gapol #HB481 pic.twitter.com/kI7aDU3cIG
— Planned Parenthood Action (@PPact) May 7, 2019
Democrat Stacey Abrams, who lost her recent gubernatorial bid in Georgia, called the legislation a “forced pregnancy bill”:
Bad policies like the forced pregnancy bill are a direct result of voter suppression. If leaders can silence Georgians’ voices at the ballot box, they can ignore Georgians’ voices when in office. We will fight back in court and at the voting booth. #HB481 https://t.co/15iOJWaBUU
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) May 7, 2019
In response to the Heartbeat abortion bill, five female Democrats in the Georgia state House introduced a bill that would have required men middle-aged and older to report their ejaculations to a county sheriff.
Actress and political activist Alyssa Milano called for Hollywood film companies to boycott the state once its Senate passed the measure.
Hollywood writers guilds also threatened a boycott if the Heartbeat bill was signed into law:
WGAE and @WGAWest oppose Georgia's abortion ban legislation #HB481. This draconian anti-choice law would discourage people in our industry from working in Georgia and could harm the state's vibrant film and television industry. Full statement attached. pic.twitter.com/bAfJkhXSTv
— Writers Guild of America, East (@WGAEast) March 26, 2019
Kemp told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, however, that the state’s “business environment’s good.”
“We cannot change our values of who we are for money,” he added. “And we’re not going to do that. That’s what makes our state great.”
“For people to want to boycott the state because we are protecting life at the heartbeat — I don’t understand that,” Kemp asserted.
Democrat state Sen. Jen Jordan tweeted the bill “marks the renewed Alabamization of Georgia”:
#HB481 marks the renewed Alabamization of Georgia. While I understand that our governor likes to couch his political strategy in SEC football terms, Alabama, football aside, really should never be our role model. Want to really keep chopping? Veto #HB481. #HB481IsBadForBusiness https://t.co/DZxun0sduk
— Jen Jordan (@senatorjen) May 2, 2019
“While I understand that our governor likes to couch his political strategy in SEC football terms, Alabama, football aside, really should never be our role model,” she posted. “Want to really keep chopping? Veto #HB481.”
Nevertheless, pro-life organizations praised Kemp for following through with his promise to sign the bill into law.
“The growing momentum to protect unborn babies from their first heartbeats is further proof Americans reject the extremism on display in New York, Virginia, and in Congress, as Democratic Party leaders back abortion on demand through birth and even infanticide,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Pro-abortion Hollywood elites clearly underestimated the people of Georgia in thinking they could be bullied. We hope their courage will inspire even more states to stand up to the abortion lobby.”
Evangelist Alveda King, director of Civil Rights for the Unborn for Priests for Life, was present at the bill’s signing and said it was “an honor and a privilege, as a citizen of Georgia, to be present today when Gov. Brian Kemp signed the Heartbeat Bill, identifying the baby in the womb as a person with a beating heart.”
The LIFE Act will become effective Jan. 1, 2020, and will replace current Georgia law which permits abortions up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.
At least 15 states have introduced similar “heartbeat” bills this year.