March 27, 2012 — The Georgia Senate on Monday voted 36-19 to approve an amended version of a bill (HB 954) that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, when supporters of the measure claim that a fetus can feel pain, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Senators amended the measure to include an exemption for "medically futile" pregnancies, which would apply if a fetus has congenital or chromosomal defects. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the notion of forcing women to continue medically risky pregnancies was a key point of contention in the debate over the bill.
The bill also would impose felony charges on doctors convicted of violating its provisions, with penalties of up to 10 years in prison (Torres, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/26).
Under current law, abortion is permitted in the last three months of pregnancy to protect the life or health of the woman. The bill does not include an exception for rape, incest or to protect a woman's mental health, which is allowed under current law (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/21). Under the bill, abortion would be permitted after 20 weeks in a medical emergency (AP/11Alive, 3/27).
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Doug McKillip (R), declined to comment on the changes to the bill. The measure now returns to the House, which could agree to the changes or drop the bill from the legislative agenda (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/26).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership