Georgia formally joins campaign to strip women of abortion rights

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has signed a bill limiting the number of weeks women in the Peach State can seek an abortion.

Of course, the measure has been touted as the state’s commitment to protecting life in its most minute forms:

Deal’s signature makes Georgia the latest state to generally ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, cutting by about six weeks the time women in Georgia may have an elective abortion.

Commonly referred to as a “fetal pain” bill, House Bill 954 will tighten medical exemptions for terminating pregnancies and require any abortion performed after 20 weeks be done in a way to bring the fetus out alive. The new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, makes no exception for rape or incest. The measure says that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks, therefore the state has an interest in protecting it.

“Today, we are reaffirming Georgia’s commitment to preserving the sanctity of all human life,” Deal said in a statement released by his office. “This legislation provides humane protection to innocents capable of feeling pain while making an important exception for … medically futile pregnancies.”

Supporters have said the law will save lives and protect more fetuses. “It’s going to save 1,200 babies a year,” said state Rep. Doug McKillip, R-Athens, who sponsored HB 954.

Opponents said the state is legislating decisions that should be made by medical experts and puts doctors at risk who work with difficult pregnancies.

According to doctors’ testimony during hearings earlier this year, medical experts widely believe fetuses do not fully develop connections related to pain before at least 24 weeks.

“Women should not be forced to adhere to legislative directives that are based on unsound medical science,” said Leola Reis, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based Planned Parenthood Southeast.

The governor’s stamp of approval moves Georgia into the columns of other states such as Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma that have so-called “fetal pain” bills, as the article noted. It’s always comforting to know my state leaders are more than willing to rely on inconclusive data to put their God-given plan to chip away rights granted to me and other Georgia women into action. Since the debate surrounding the campaign to reverse women’s abortion rights in Georgia raged on during the Georgia General Assembly’s 40-day legislative session, some concessions had to be made in order to get the destructive and regressive legislation through both chambers.

More from the article:

As part of the compromise, an exemption added to the bill gives doctors the option to perform an abortion past 20 weeks when a fetus has congenital or chromosomal defects. According to language in the bill, those defects must be profound and “irremediable” anomalies that would be “incompatible with sustaining life after birth.”

It also includes protection for doctors from civil suits brought as a result of the legislation. Otherwise, doctors who are involved in abortions after 20 weeks that do not meet the law’s mandates could be charged with a felony and face up to 10 years in prison.

That’s comforting–my doctor could recommend aborting my fetus if they feel a congenital or chromosomal defect would impact its quality of life once born, but a woman or child who is raped or a victim of incest won’t have that choice available?

Once again, abortion rights are being used as political footballs for conservative politicians to score points with voters and activists who are dead set on revoking women’s reproductive rights. If these conservative politicians are more than willing to use their plan to invade and occupy our uteri as a means to advancing their anti-choice agenda, then it’s well past high time women start applying litmus tests to politicians clinging to their anti-choice viewpoints.

Any politician, Republican or Democrat, who would be willing to strip away my rights should be heavily scrutinized by every woman who plans to go into the voting booth and cast their ballots. Every politician who would even consider signing onto legislation that would roll back rights granted via Roe V. Wade should be viewed with heavy skepticism and be labeled as a candidate who is hostile to women’s reproductive rights. It’s the only way politicians will not pander to anti-woman, anti-choice voters and activists and their campaigns to place women’s health care into the second-class arena.

How do you think women should respond to the new laws restricting abortion access in their respective states?