Georgia Governor Signs Almost Total Ban on Abortion

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(PRESS RELEASE) Today, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill (HB 481) that would effectively ban abortion outright. The law makes it a crime for doctors to provide an abortion once a heartbeat has been detected—around six weeks of pregnancy. Earlier this month, the Center for Reproductive Rights sent a letter to Governor Kemp urging him to veto the bill to no avail.

Statement from Elisabeth Smith, Chief Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“This law is bafflingly unconstitutional. Bans like this have always been blocked by courts. We will be suing Georgia to make sure this law has the same fate.

Even for women who find out they’re pregnant before six weeks, it would be nearly impossible to get an abortion before the cutoff. Georgia law requires women to visit a clinic twice before they can get an abortion, and, because Georgia law limits public and private insurance coverage of abortion, women often must save up money to pay for the procedure.

Georgia’s intentions are clear—they want this law to make it up to the Supreme Court to challenge Roe v. Wade. They see new justices on the court and think it’s possible. But the composition of the court has changed many times in the 46 years since Roe, and the Supreme Court has continuously reaffirmed that women have the right to decide to have an abortion.”

The Center is also suing Mississippi, which passed a six-week ban last month. The state passed a 15-week ban last year, which was struck down in court. Bans on abortion prior to viability have been struck down in various states including North Carolina, Mississippi, Arkansas, Arizona, Iowa, and North Dakota. North Carolina’s 20-week ban was struck down just last month. The Supreme Court recognized in Roe v. Wade and reaffirmed just three years ago that a state cannot deny women the ultimate decision to terminate a pregnancy prior to viability.

Georgia women already face state-imposed barriers to abortion. For example, women must receive biased counseling designed to deter them from having an abortion, and then wait 24 hours before the procedure. State health insurance offered in Georgia under the Affordable Care Act only covers abortion if the woman's life is endangered or her health is severely compromised, and minors cannot obtain an abortion without notification of a parent.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Kelly Krause; kkrause@reprorights.org; 585-919-9966