Wednesday, May 2, 2012

“Women as Livestock Law” in Georgia

ATLANTA, GA - Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed into law two pieces of legislation on Tuesday to restrict late-term abortions and outlaw assisted suicide in the state.

The first law (HB 954) banned most abortions after 20 weeks' pregnancy, making Georgia the eighth U.S. state to outlaw most late-term abortions based on controversial research that a fetus can feel pain by that stage of development.

Georgia already prohibits most abortions starting in the third trimester.

The second law signed by Deal made it a felony to help people take their own lives. The Georgia Supreme Court in February struck down as unconstitutional a previous law that outlawed the advertising of assisted-suicide services. The court ruled the old law was a violation of the right to free speech.

The abortion measure passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in late March included exceptions to save the life of the mother and if the fetus has extreme defects that make survival unlikely.

"This legislation provides humane protection to innocents capable of feeling pain, while making an important exception for in the case of medically-futile pregnancies," Deal, a Republican, said in a statement.

Georgia Right to Life, which opposes abortion, has called the new legislation "a step in the right direction," but expressed disappointment at the exemption for "medically futile" pregnancies in which the fetus is likely to die after birth.

Abortion opponents said the exception left the door open for a doctor to recommend abortion of fetuses that are less than completely healthy.

Planned Parenthood, which provides women's health services and is the nation's largest abortion provider, said the bill would limit women's access to healthcare.

The organization said in a statement that the bill "calls into question every woman who makes a deeply personal, private medical decision."

Georgia joins Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, and North Carolina in banning most or all abortions after 20 weeks. Arizona bans most abortions after 18 weeks.

The U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortions in 1973 but allowed states to ban the procedure after the time when the fetus could potentially survive outside the womb, except where a woman's health was at risk.

After an emotional 14-hour workday that included fist-fights between lobbyists and a walk-out by women Democrats, the Georgia House passed a Senate-approved bill that criminalizes abortion after 20 weeks.

The bill, which does not contain rape or incest exemptions, was expected to receive a signature from Republican Gov. Nathan Deal at the end of the sessions of 2012 General Assembly.

Commonly referred to as the “fetal pain bill” by Georgian Republicans and as the “women as livestock bill” by everyone else, HB 954 garnered national attention when state Rep. Terry England (R-Auburn) compared pregnant women carrying stillborn fetuses to the cows and pigs on his farm. According to Rep. England and his warped thought process, if farmers have to “deliver calves, dead or alive,” then a woman carrying a dead fetus, or one not expected to survive, should have to carry it to term.

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

The law, sponsored by Rep. Doug McKillip (R-Athens) and Sen. Tommie Williams (R-Lyons) takes effect Jan. 1.

Deal also signed a bill to abolish the State Personnel Administration (HB 805), sponsored by House floor leader Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) and Senate floor leader Ronnie Chance (R-Tyrone).

“This is yet another concrete example of how we are reducing the size of government and creating greater efficiencies for the taxpayers of Georgia,” Deal said. “Money not spent by the state government is money that can stay in the family pocketbook, where it can do the greatest good to create jobs in our state.”

Gov. Deal signing the "pro-life bill" alongside representative from Archdiocese of Atlanta, Sen. Tommie Williams, Mary McKillip, Rep. Doug McKillip, president of Georgia Right to Life Dan Becker, Rep. Doug Collins, Rep. Donna Sheldon and Rep. Ed Setzler (from left to right).

Also today, the governor signed the following:
HB 541, HB 642, HB 865, HB 933, HB 1114, HB 1166, SB 153, SB 289, SB 324, SB 372, SB 414,
SB 427, SB 428

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