ATLANTA - Georgia state senators have voted to approve House Bill 481, the so-called Heartbeat Bill, a controversial measure that would ban abortions after six weeks.
Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot broke the news on Twitter Friday at 5:46 p.m.
#Breaking The Georgia Senate voted to approve the Heartbeat Bill which would ban abortions after six weeks. It goes now to the House.— Richard Elliot (@RElliotWSB) March 22, 2019
The vote came after hours of debate and with dozens of demonstrators in the halls of the state Capitol.
Channel 2 Action News was there Monday as the Heartbeat Bill passed out of a Senate committee. On Thursday, it passed a final committee.
The bill later went to the floor of the Senate, where senators ultimately voted in favor.
Elliot was inside the Capitol and said people were waiting to get into the Senate gallery.
There is a very long line of people waiting to get in the Senate gallery as lawmakers plan to debate the abortion bill today. pic.twitter.com/SWwdysj58Z— Richard Elliot (@RElliotWSB) March 22, 2019
Channel 2’s Dave Huddleston was outside the Capitol, where dozens of Georgia State Patrol and other police cruisers were lined up.
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"I can't recall the last time I saw this many (police vehicles) at the Capitol," Huddleston said.
Pro-choice supporters showed up wearing costumes from the TV show “A Handmaid’s Tale.” Pro-life supporters wore white and showed off signs.
Americus Sen. Greg Kirk defended the bill: "Many of the abortions done today are done so as a form of birth control and convenience."
The law would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. That’s usually about six weeks into a pregnancy, instead of the 20-weeks under current Georgia law.
There is an exception to the bill: if the pregnancy endangers a woman’s life.
Doctors who perform an abortion after detecting a fetal heartbeat could lose their medical licenses.
Stone Mountain Democrat Gloria Butler argued that the bill would take away a woman’s constitutional right: "We’ve seen the chipping away at our constitutional rights over and over of our own bodies and now, here we go again."
Buford Republican Renee Unterman sponsored the bill in the Senate.
She said the bill makes unborn children legal citizens of Georgia and gives them rights while still in the womb.
“The bill defines that a natural person, a natural person is any human being including an unborn child,” Unterman said.
Atlanta Democrat Nikema Williams argued that the abortion issue shouldn’t be a partisan one.
“It’s not just Democrats. It’s not just people that live in Atlanta. Those are people that all of you know," Williams said.
The bill now goes back to the House.
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