In a highly controversial move Tuesday morning, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the state’s proposed “fetal heartbeat bill” into law, making it one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation.
As previously reported by For Every Mom, the bill officially titled the “Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act,” will prohibit abortions in the state of Georgia after a fetal heartbeat is detected. This is typically around five or six weeks, and often before a mother knows she’s pregnant.
The new law does allow exceptions in cases of rape, incest or imminent danger to the mother or baby’s life. It also criminalizes the act of abortion, meaning if a doctor performs an abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, they could face criminal charges for murder.
It’s a stark contrast to bills like New York’s Reproductive Health Act passed in January, which made abortion legal through the third trimester in cases where the mother’s mental or physical health is at risk. The Reproductive Health Act also eliminated any definition of abortion as a criminal act, removing limits on who can perform an abortion.
“Georgia is a state that values life,” Kemp said before signing his name on the LIFE Act Tuesday morning. “We protect the innocent, we champion the vulnerable, we stand up and speak for those that are unable to speak for themselves.”
Kemp said he recognizes the bill in which he campaigned on will be challenged.
“But our job is to do what is right, not what is easy,” Kemp added. “We will not back down. We will always continue to fight for life.”
The Georgia legislation is part of a larger landscape of nearly 300 anti-abortion bills introduced so far this year in 36 states, with similar bills passing in Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Iowa, and North Dakota. Supporters hope the growing number of similar anti-abortion bills leads to a re-evaluation by the United States Supreme Court of the landmark 1973 ruling of Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal nationwide.
According to a study conducted by Planned Parenthood and Guttmacher in March, six-week abortion bans like Georgia’s, are up by 62 percent this year.
This comes as states like New York, New Mexico, Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia, among other Democratic-leaning states, are supporting bills that allow abortion up to the moment of birth.
But as often as these bills are being proposed or passed by state lawmakers, they’re also being met with opposition and deemed “unconstitutional” by several federal judges under Roe v. Wade, which is protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Roe v. Wade’s ruling allows abortions until 24 weeks, which the justices said is the “point of viability,” when the fetus can survive outside of the womb.
“It’s a historic day for Georgia, for Georgia families, and for those precious unborn babies,” Rep. Ginny Ehrhart, a co-sponsor of the bill, told “Fox & Friends” Tuesday morning.
More than 200 Hollywood actors including Alyssa Milano, Amy Schumer, and Ben Stiller, wrote an open letter last month threatening to pull business out of the state, which is a hub for filming movies and television shows.
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
“We want to continue to support the wonderful people, businesses and communities we have come to love in the Peach State,” according to the letter, which was addressed to the governor and the speaker of the House of Representatives. “But we will not do so silently, and we will do everything in our power to move our industry to a safer state for women if H.B. 481 becomes law.”
The letter also noted that if members were to boycott filming in Georgia, “the cost would be most deeply felt by the residents of Georgia — including those who directly work in the film and television industry, and those who benefit from the many millions of dollars it pours into the local economy.”
At an event in March, Kemp said that Georgia’s entertainment industry employs more than 200,000 residents of the state and generated more than $60 billion of economic activity.
However, on Tuesday afternoon, there was near silence on social media from those who signed the March 28 letter threatening said boycott.
In addition to celebrities, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights have also promised to challenge the legislation long before it goes into effect in January 2020.