In Georgia, a bill intended to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks has passed both the state House and Senate; it’s now expected to be signed by Republican Gov. Nathan Deal. Unlike similar bills in other state this one originally had no exception for “medically futile” pregnancies—i.e., fetuses that would be stillborn. Speaking in support of the bill—officially HR 954, but referred to by lawmakers as the ‘fetal pain bill’ and opponents as the ‘women as livestock‘ bill—state Rep. Terry England compared pregnant women to the farm animals he recalls wistfully from his childhood:
Life gives us many experiences…I’ve had the experience of delivering calves, dead and alive. Delivering pigs, dead or alive. It breaks our hearts to see those animals not make it.
Heartbreaking, but what’s good for farm animals is good for women, obviously … The final, compromise bill, however, allows for abortion after 20 weeks in cases where a fetus had “profound and irremediable’ anomalies that would be ‘incompatible with sustaining life after birth.’
In the lead up to the bill’s passing, Georgia’s Right to Life President Dan Becker and John Walraven, executive director of the Perinatal Infertility Coalition of Georgia, “had a heated verbal exchange that became physical;” a nearby trooper intervened.
According to Ms. Magazine, the final bill still excludes a woman’s “emotional or mental condition” as reason for exemption, which means women suffering from severe mental illness couldn’t get an abortion after 20 weeks; neither could women whose pregnancies were results of rape or incest. Also:
In order for a pregnancy to be considered “medically futile,” the fetus must be diagnosed with an irreversible chromosomal or congenital anomaly that is “incompatible with sustaining life after birth.” The Georgia “fetal pain” bill also stipulates that the abortion must be performed in such a way that the fetus emerges alive. If doctors perform the abortion differently, they face felony charges and up to 10 years in prison. Given all this, the so-called compromise suddenly does not look like much of a bargain.