Georgia’s heartbeat abortion law would go into effect if the Supreme Court overturns Roe versus Wade

Georgia’s “heartbeat” abortion law is in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals; if the U.S. Supreme Court does overturn Roe v. Wade, there’s a good chance the court of appeals will rule Georgia’s abortion law is constitutional and let to go forward.

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot talked with legal experts about what’s in that law.

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A three-judge panel said last year that they wanted to wait to see what the Supreme Court did about a similar law before ruling. If the high court overturns Roe v. Wade, then those judges could rule Georgia’s law is constitutional.

The Georgia law now before the circuit court of appeals is officially known as the Living Infants Fairness Equality Act, or the “LIFE” Act. Unofficially, it’s known as Georgia’s “heartbeat” abortion bill.

The bill says, “no abortion is authorized or shall be performed if an unborn child has been determined to have a detectable human heartbeat.” That occurs at about six weeks of pregnancy, and before some women even know they are pregnant.

It does have exceptions for medical emergencies, rape or incest, and if the pregnancy is no longer viable.

The law also allows women to sue abortion providers if they regret the procedure. It allows pregnant women to collect child support and allows parents to claim the unborn child/fetus as a dependent for tax purposes.

The law’s author, Acworth lawmaker Ed Setzler, told Elliot last year that he wanted to make the unborn child/fetus a “person” under Georgia law.

“But Georgia laid a foundation by recognizing the full legal personhood of the unborn child in the LIFE Act that allows Georgia to be the state where pregnant moms can get child support,” Setzler said.


Georgia State University constitutional law professor Anthony Michael Kries doesn’t like the law at all. He calls it a radicalization of state law that could lead aggressive prosecutors to charge doctors with murder. He also worries that others like nurses, office receptionists and even ride-share drivers could be charged as an accomplice to murder.

“It’s an untested area of laws, and it’s certainly one that would be up to prosecutorial discretion to try and figure out how far the law could reach,” Kreis said.

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