At least 500 gathered in near freezing temperatures on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade for Georgia’s annual March for Life anti-abortion rally. Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia Republican files ‘heartbeat’ bill that would effectively ban abortion

An Acworth Republican lawmaker has filed legislation that would effectively ban abortions in Georgia.

State Rep. Ed Setzler on Monday introduced House Bill 481, which would outlaw abortions once a doctor can detect a heartbeat in the womb.

A similar bill is expected to be filed in the Senate this week.

Doctors say a heartbeat is typically detected when a fetus reaches six weeks gestation. Current Georgia law allows abortions up to 20 weeks.

Anti-abortion advocates praised the proposal, saying it “could save thousands of innocent lives.”

Georgia Right to Life President Ricardo Davis said the bill is a “hopeful step toward the ultimate goal of adopting a ‘personhood’ amendment to the state constitution that will protect all innocent human life from fertilization through natural death.”

Staci Fox, president of abortion rights group Planned Parenthood Southeast, said if the Legislature passes Setzler’s proposal, it would not stand up in court.

“These six-week bans simply go too far — restricting abortion before most women even know they are pregnant,” she said. “These bans are blatantly unconstitutional and Georgia lawmakers know it.”

While bills dealing with abortion haven’t advanced in recent years, they may gain traction this legislative session — Gov. Brian Kemp vowed during his campaign to sign the “toughest abortion laws in the country.”

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