The governor of Georgia recently signed into law the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) act, which would prevent a women from getting an abortion if there was a heartbeat detected, usually around six weeks of a pregnancy.
The bill will restrict, when it comes into effect 1 January 2020, Georgia’s already restrictive abortion requirements, which had previously banned abortion at 20 weeks in 2012 and banned partial birth abortions. Following the passage of the bill, Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, tweeted “Georgia values life. We stand up for the innocent and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. The legislature’s bold action reaffirms our priorities and who we are as a state. I thank these lawmakers for their leadership and applaud their undeniable courage.
The 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade had allowed abortions up to 24 weeks of a pregnancy.While many abortion laws have been struck down in the past by the court system for violating the precedent set by Roe, now that president Trump has appointed two conservative justices, many Republican held states feel now is the time to push the envelope.
Several other states like Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio, have also passed bills similar to Georgia’s, hoping that when the law is challenged in court, the Supreme Court will overrule their previous precedent and let states decide how they want to handle abortion. It’s clear based on language of those writing these more restrictive abortion laws that they intend for the Court to overrule Roe, with Republican Terri Collins of Alabama, who authored Alabama’s new abortion ban said they want their law uphold “and hopefully to let that decision go back to the states, so that states can make the laws that are most appropriate for their people.”
While the bill has not yet been put into effect, many are still concerned about the impact the bill will have. The executive director for an activism group called Spark Reproductive Justice Now, Dr. Krystal Redman said “People are dying because of the maternal health here in Georgia. The fact that we’re eliminating a health care option, a service, will do a disservice to Georgians.”
It is unclear exactly how the current Court would rule on abortion, though with five conservative justices who tend to rule in favor of Republicans, it is possible the abortion laws signed by Georgia or Alabama may be allowed to stand. Though four of the five conservative justices are more open to changing abortion law, Chief Justice John Roberts is known for being more about upholding the courts legitimacy, and might not vote to uphold abortion bans.
In Northern Ireland, they face an even stricter abortion law, where women can face criminal penalty for getting an abortion, something that the Abortion Act of 1967 did not address. The current government in the UK has so far failed to address abortion in Northern Ireland, perhaps due to the support needed from that region.