The “Fetal Heartbeat” Bill Was Passed In Georgia But Not In Florida
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
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On Tuesday, May 7, 2019, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill (HB481, the Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act or LIFE Act, aka “fetal hearbeat” bill) that would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat (usually during week 6, before many women even realize that they’re pregnant) can be detected, a law that the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) says it will challenge in court. Georgia is the 6th state to pass such a restrictive six-week abortion ban, following Ohio, Mississippi, Kentucky, Iowa, and North Dakota. Such bills would essentially prohibit nearly all abortions. None of these laws have actually been enacted: they either haven’t yet taken effect or have been blocked from taking effect by a judge, which means that abortion after week 6 is still legal in all of these six states. However, these laws pose a legitimate threat, appearing as part of a large effort to eventually overturn Roe v. Wade at the level of the Supreme Court and as part of a growing push against women’s reproductive rights in the United States.
Georgia lawmakers have passed one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion bills. It would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. CBS News reporter Kate Smith joined CBSN to explain whether it will become law and if legislation like this one could threaten federal abortion rights, in the video ““Heartbeat bill” in Georgia would ban abortions after heartbeat detected“, below:
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to sign one of the most restrictive and controversial anti-abortion laws in the country. The bill makes abortions illegal once a heartbeat is detectable in the embryo, which can happen as early as five or six weeks after conception. Mark Strassmann reports, in the video “Georgia governor to sign controversial “heart” abortion bill“, below:
The Walking Dead, Black Panther, and the Hunger Games series were all filmed in Georgia. More than 100 Hollywood stars have promised to boycott the state of Georgia if this bill becomes the law. And dozens more signed a letter saying they would urge TV and film production companies to abandon the state if a “heartbeat” abortion bill becomes the law.
These multi-state legal challenge appears to be heading toward the Supreme Court. In case you’re interested, these are the specifics of these bans in the six states mentioned above:
- Georgia: it is set to take effect in January, 2020. The ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights vowed to challenge it in court.
- Ohio: it is set to take effect in July, 2019. The ACLU announced that it is filing a lawsuit to challenge the bill shortly after the bill was signed. Legal director at the ACLU of Ohio, Freda Levenson said, “This legislation is blatantly unconstitutional and we will fight to the bitter end to ensure that this bill is permanently blocked.”
- Mississippi: it is set to take effect in July, 2019. The Center for Reproductive Rights has asked a judge to block the law before it takes effect. The bill was immediately challenged by reproductive rights groups after Governor Phil Bryant of Mississippi signed the bill. Last November a federal judge struck down another restrictive abortion bill passed in Mississippi that would ban abortion after 15 weeks.
- Kentucky: it was set to take effect on March 15, 2019. But the ACLU filed an immediate challenge, and Judge David J. Hale of the Western District of Kentucky ruled that the law was potentially unconstitutional, and prevented it from taking effect until after a hearing.
- Iowa: Iowa lawmakers passed a bill in May, 2018, banning most abortions after week 6, except in cases of rape or incest. It was soon struck down as unconstitutional, with District Court Judge Michael Huppert writing, “It is undisputed that such cardiac activity is detectable well in advance of the fetus becoming viable.” Republican state senator Rick Bertrand of Sioux City commented, when the law first passed, “We created an opportunity to take a run at Roe v. Wade-100 percent.” Even though the six-week abortion ban did not take effect, Iowa now has severe abortion restrictions in place: such as requiring parents of a minor be notified before obtaining an abortion, forcing a woman to undergo ultrasounds before each abortion, and requiring the governor to personally approve each Medicaid-funded abortion, even in case of life endangerment, rape, incest, or fetal anomaly.
- North Dakota: North Dakota’s “fetal heartbeat” law was the strictest abortion ban in the nation when it was enacted in 2013. But it was blocked from taking effect by lower courts. And in 2016, the Supreme Court refused to review a lower court’s ruling, thus blocking it permanently.
A similar bill, HB235 (its companion bill to SB792), was introduced in Florida, primarily sponsored by Walter Bryan “Mike” Hill, on Jan. 10, 2019, which would make it a felony to knowingly perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant person when a fetal heartbeat has been detected. This bill was referred to House Health Quality Subcommittee on Jan. 23, 2019, and died in committee on May 3, 2019. To see the text of HB235, please click HERE. To see the Legislative Tracker and names of its primary sponsor and co-sponsors of HB235, please click HERE.
Florida legislators are both intelligent and pragmatic, considering not only the potential negative impact on many women’s lives and choices, but also tremendous potential economic losses ( from loss of tourists, retirees, or entertainment industries resulting from any form of boycott) for the state of Florida if such legislature would be passed.
Gathered, written, and posted by Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker
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