It came down to the last minutes of the 40th legislative day to pass a divisive bill restricting abortions.
A compromise among Georgia lawmakers seemingly places the state with 6 others that ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. Opponents say the controversial bill calls a war on women.
The bill (HB 954) was introduced as the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
State representative Doug McKillip was the sponsor.
McKillip and pro-life advocates claim that after 20 weeks of pregnancy the fetus would feel pain due to an abortion.
As the legislation worked through committee hearings and various speakers addressed lawmakers, Democrat Senator Nan Orrock says it was clear bipartisan cooperation would be difficult.
“I was embarrassed, I was embarrassed, publicly embarrassed to see the way doctors were treated when they came before our committee, they were virtually called liars by the author of the bill. It was a sad a shameful day for the Georgia Senate,” she says.
Loretta Ross is with the Atlanta-based reproductive rights group Sister Song.
She calls the fetal pain theory a smokescreen.
“But in reality under the myth of fetal pain, there’s no scientific evidence that fetuses feel pain, but still they’re calling themselves protecting women against ourselves, I guess,” she says.
There is a provision that allows for an abortion if the unborn is deemed “medically futile.”
That’s when a doctor has properly diagnosed a congenital or chromosomal defect incompatible with life.
But to Senator Orrock, there’s nothing about the legislation that’s fair to women.
“This bill is a totally loss,” she says. “It’s a Republican bill and it doesn’t take into account a mother’s health being threatened by a trouble pregnancy, and it has no exception for victims of rape or incest.”
HB-954 will have its place among Georgia laws that were drawn along political and gender lines.
Before it reaches Governor Nathan Deal’s desk for signature, his legal staff will review it so it could be early May before it’s signed into law.