Georgia became the fourth U.S. state this year to outlaw abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Opponents called the legislation a virtual ban because fetal heartbeats can be detected as early as six weeks, before a woman may be aware she is pregnant.
Abortion foes say the bills are intended to draw legal challenges, in hopes that a case will land before the U.S. Supreme Court, where a majority of conservative judges including two appointed by Republican President Donald Trump could overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that established a woman’s right to an abortion.
“Our job is to do what is right, not what is easy,” Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said as he signed the bill, surrounded by applauding supporters.
Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio have enacted heartbeat laws since mid-March, and Iowa passed one last year. Courts have blocked the Iowa and Kentucky laws, and the others face legal challenges. The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia and the Center for Reproductive Rights have vowed to sue to stop this law.