On Friday March 22, the Georgia Senate approved House Bill 481, also known as the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, or the “heartbeat” bill, with a 34-18 vote. If finalized, the act will become effective on July 1, 2019 and proposes the presence of an embryo’s heartbeat as the new criterion for outlawing abortions.
If it is not medically necessary for the mother to have an abortion, an abortion will not be authorized or performed if a heartbeat is detected, which usually happens around week six of gestation.
This bill would also include embryos and fetuses in the state population-based determinations since it amend state law to include unborn children as a “natural person” under state law. It also prohibits anyone other than a licensed physician to perform an abortion, and they may not do so until confirming there is no heartbeat and receiving informed consent from the pregnant person.
“I like this new policy surrounding abortion,” said Grace Anne Wilson, a sophomore nursing major. “But I know abortion is not always a black and white situation. One good addition to the bill is emphasizing a stricter regulation on who can perform abortions, to ensure when they are done that they are done safely.”
Others disagree with the policy.
“I was very mad when the bill passed, it is an affront on women’s rights and the right to bodily,” said Sydney Main, a sophomore environmental science major. “It should not be legal to force someone to donate their body to a stranger, if one thinks of a fetus as a person, which I do not.”
This bill is now one of the country’s strictest abortion policies. It credits its legal basis to modern medical science that was not available decades ago, stating that “early infants in the womb are a class of living and distinct human beings that among other individual human traits, have their own distinct blood types, organ systems, central nervous systems.”
Sponsored by House Representatives Ed Seltzer, Jodi Lott, Darlene Taylor, Josh Bonner, Ginny Ehrhart and others, this bill will set stricter standards for abortion in the state of Georgia. Previously, Georgia’s policy on abortion was focused on the fetus’s viability outside of the womb.
Exceptions to this bill include situations where it is necessary to avert death or substantial injury to the pregnant person, where it is necessary to preserve the life of the fetus or if the pregnancy at 20 weeks is the result of rape or incest and was reported to law officials.
Like all legislation surrounding abortion, opposition to this bill is sharp. While some show overwhelming support for this new bill, others were more satisfied with the previous policy and believe that the decision to abort belongs strictly to the pregnant person.
“I have always believed it should be the woman’s right to choose whether to carry out their pregnancy or not, rather than the decision of the state,” said Jack Hettinger a sophomore and mass communications major who said he favored the previous law.
Graphic by Rachael Alesia & Compiled by Sarah Jones | Contributing Writer