Georgia Senate to Vote on Anti-Abortion Bill Monday
Sometime in the last month, a friend told me that Margaret Atwood said her dystopian novel, A Handmaid’s Tale, was not supposed to be predictive. When the Canadian author wrote this book in the early 1980s, could she have imagined that her fictional theocracy would foreshadow, in her lifetime, the environment south of the 49th parallel?
The Georgia General Assembly is on the verge of prohibiting almost all abortions after 20 weeks, even if a pregnancy resulted from rape or incest or in the case of a fetus that “is doomed to die an excruciating death within hours of birth.” The premise? That a 20+ week old fetus can feel pain.
The Senate is slated to vote Monday on HB954, “to change certain provisions relating to criminal abortion.” The legislation, known anecdotally as the Fetal Pain Bill, would reduce by six weeks the time in which a Georgia woman could obtain a legal abortion.
HB954, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, was introduced by Rep. Doug McKillip (R-Athens) and has already passed the House (102-65). In this bill, Georgia’s politicians are inserting themselves between a woman and her doctor.
House Bill 954 threatens to put an obstetrician in jail for caring for any pregnancy with complications after 20 weeks. If this legislation becomes law, a woman whose water breaks at 21 weeks gestation would be legally forced to have a Cesarean delivery in order to protect the “life” of a non-viable baby since the process of labor usually results in death of the baby at this gestational age.
As a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist in Athens, I know that difficult clinical situations of an impending delivery before the point of viability occur multiple times each year in our community. The families are devastated. The physician and nursing team are the support to assist these families as they suffer through these losses.