Republican governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, signed the “heartbeat bill”—House Bill 481—in May, which bans abortions as soon as a heartbeat is detected. A fetus can develop a heartbeat as early as six weeks, before most women realize they are pregnant. The bill violates the Roe v. Wade decision made in 1973 that protects a woman’s right to abortion during her first trimester .
Over 2 million college-aged women become pregnant every year, and low-income women aged 18-24 experience the highest rates of unintended pregnancy rates, according to the Pregnant on Campus Initiative
HB 481, also known as the “Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act, asserts “unborn children as a natural person[s],” providing them with fully-fledged constitutional rights, including fetuses in “certain population based determinations.” The bill allows for parents to claim a fetus on their taxes as a dependent. The bill also allowed later abortions in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the woman or fetus is in danger.
Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, Planned Parenthood, and Center for Reproductive Rights filed a constitutional challenge on behalf of healthcare providers and their patients against the bill in June.
U.S. District Judge Steve Jones ordered that current abortion laws shall remain in effect, and temporarily blocked HB 481. The ACLU lauded the judge, claiming that Tuesday was “a tremendous victory for the women of Georgia and for the Constitution.”
Brian Kemp’s spokesman, Candice Broce, responded that Kemp will “continue to fight for the unborn.” As similar cases occur across the country, the Roe v. Wade decision faces attacks from other state legislatures. While none of the bans have taken effect, this bill is currently on hold. The governor’s office will review Jones’ decision.