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Georgia legislature sends 6-week abortion ban to governor to sign into law

Protesters in the chamber shouted "shame."

The Georgia Senate approved a 6-week abortion ban on March 29, 2019. (PHOTO CREDIT: 	Susanne Neumann/Getty Images)
The Georgia Senate approved a 6-week abortion ban on March 29, 2019. (PHOTO CREDIT: Susanne Neumann/Getty Images)

The Georgia House of Representatives on Friday passed a six-week abortion ban, in a 92 to 78 vote, despite massive public outcry.

Lawmakers voted in favor of the so-called “fetal heartbeat” ban, while people in the chamber shouted “shame.” The bill makes narrow exceptions if a person’s life is endangered or if they are raped and report to law enforcement. The bill is now headed to Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) desk, who has said he’ll sign the bill into law.

Local reporters noted that there was a heavier police presence than usual in the Capitol building on Friday after the bill was passed. In a heated exchange, a male police officer told Democratic female lawmakers they were violating the law.

“The law is you are interrupting,” said the police officer. The lawmakers then explained they were upset about the bill the House just passed.

This year, there has been an unprecedented surge in state lawmakers trying to ban abortions before most people even know they’re pregnant, with Kentucky and Mississippi passing similar bills earlier this year.

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A federal court already blocked Kentucky’s six-week ban, and Mississippi’s ban is facing a lawsuit. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) already said it’ll sue Kemp if he signs the bill into law.

“With Georgia in the midst of a reproductive health care and maternal mortality crisis, lawmakers should be focusing their attention on ensuring pregnant people have the health care they need, not banning abortion before most women even know they’re pregnant. Make no mistake—this ban is nothing but gross political interference into the health care and personal decisions of Georgia women,” said Talcott Camp, Deputy Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, in a statement to ThinkProgress.

“Governor Kemp, if you sign this abortion ban into law, we will sue and see you in court to fight this blatant attack on the rights and dignity of Georgia women and families.”

The anti-abortion movement has been emboldened since President Donald Trump appointed two conservative justices to the Supreme Court. GOP-controlled state legislatures are passing near-total abortion bans, with the ultimate goal of making their way to the Supreme Court, where justices could overturn the landmark abortion rights precedent established in Roe v. Wade.  

Georgia’s six-week abortion ban is deeply unpopular, but lawmakers narrowly passed the bill anyways. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) — which has never commented on an abortion restrictions before — warned lawmakers that Hollywood production crews would leave the state if the “draconian, anti-choice measure” becomes law.” Atlanta has been a hotbed for large-scale film shoots for years. Reproductive rights and justice activists have been protesting the bill at the state house all month, but the GOP, male-controlled legislature ultimately ignored their cries.

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“For weeks, Georgians have been raising our voices against attempts to ban abortion in our state. But today, anti-abortion politicians and Governor Kemp refused to listen to us and instead put politics over our health and the well-being of our families,” said Oriaku Njoku, founder and president of ARC-Southeast, in a statement to ThinkProgress.

“Let’s be clear: bans on abortion are racist and unjust, and the burden falls hardest on women of color, rural communities, and low-income people. This fight is far from over. We will not stop raising our voices and speaking out against these continued attacks on our bodies and our lives,” she added.

This is a breaking news story and has been updated with additional details.