Georgia Senate Passes Bill Banning Abortions After Unborn Baby’s Heart Starts Beating

State   |   Steven Ertelt, Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 25, 2019   |   1:17PM   |   Atlanta, GA

The Georgia state Senate on Friday advanced a pro-life bill Monday that would prohibit abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable.

Georgia House Bill 481, the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (L.I.F.E.) Act, would ban abortions on an unborn baby after their heartbeat is detectable, around six weeks. It would allow exceptions for rape, incest and threats to the mother’s life. In addition, the bill would allow parents to claim unborn babies as dependents on their taxes and include the unborn baby in census data. It also would allow mothers to collect child support for pregnancy and delivery costs from the father prior to the baby’s birth.

State Rep. Ed Setzler, the lead sponsor of the bill, said his goal is to protect unborn babies, who already are unique, living human beings by six weeks of pregnancy.

“Protecting life in the womb with a human heartbeat is what science, law and human conscience would suggest,” Setzler said.

The Georgia Senate approved the bill Friday amid heavy police presence as abortion activists shouted at pro-life legislators who voted for the bill:

The bill, backed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, passed on a 34-18 party-line vote and would be one of the nation’s strictest anti-abortion measures if it becomes law and is not blocked in court battles. It will now go back to the House to approve Senate changes, where it’s expected to pass again.

Andrea Young, the executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, said in an interview Friday that the group would challenge the heartbeat abortion ban in court if it’s signed into law.

Republican Sen. Greg Dolezal, speaking in favor of the legislation, said that every life is a miracle.

“I don’t know how many of us are in this room right now, probably 200, but I am looking at 200 miracles,” Dolezal said. He then began to look around the chamber. “Senator, you are a miracle. Senator, you are a miracle,” then up to the balcony, “Sir, you’re a miracle. Ma’am, you’re a miracle.”

Debate took place amid heavy security. Over two dozen Georgia State Patrol cars flanked the Capitol building and as many troopers stood watch inside.

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If signed, the law would take effect January 1, 2020.

Gov. Kemp said in a statement Friday that he looked “forward to working with the House to ensure this legislation’s final passage in the coming days.”

“Today, we took another step to ensure that life is valued and protected in Georgia,” Kemp wrote on Twitter Monday after a Senate committee approved the bill. “I thank the Senate Science and Technology Committee for their work and look forward to HB 481 receiving consideration by the full Senate.”

The bill passed the state House earlier this month after a contentious debate. Pro-abortion Democratic lawmakers turned their backs on Setzler at one point in the debate, according to the Gainesville Times. Others walked off the floor while he was speaking. At another point, state Rep. Renitta Shannon, a pro-abortion Democrat, refused to yield the floor and had her microphone cut off.

This winter, pro-life lawmakers have introduced a number of heartbeat bills including in Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

Some pro-lifers have renewed hope that the new conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court will uphold an abortion ban and overturn Roe v. Wade. Others, however, are hesitant because of concerns about losing the court battle and being forced to reimburse pro-abortion groups for their legal fees.

Recently, a federal judge blocked Kentucky’s new heartbeat bill. In January, a judge also declared Iowa’s heartbeat law unconstitutional. North Dakota and Arkansas passed heartbeat bills several years ago, but federal courts struck down their laws as well.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said the following about its ruling on the six-week abortion ban: “Because there is no genuine dispute that (North Dakota’s law) generally prohibits abortions before viability — as the Supreme Court has defined that concept — and because we are bound by Supreme Court precedent holding that states may not prohibit pre-viability abortions, we must affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the plaintiffs.”

There is more hope that the U.S. Supreme Court may consider an abortion ban, but it is difficult to say if it would for certain – especially after Chief Justice John Roberts recently sided with the liberal justices on an abortion case.