Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the “heartbeat” bill into law Tuesday morning.
Kemp kept his campaign promise in signing the bill, HB 481, technically called the “Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act,” which will prohibit abortions in the state after a heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The law allows exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or if the life of the mother is in danger.
Before the signing of the bill, State Rep. Ed Setzler pointed to science, law, and the simple fact that common sense says a beating heart is a sign of life and those children should receive the full protection of the law. State Sen. Renee Unterman, a former nurse who ushered the bill through the state Senate, said she has waited her entire time as a legislator for this moment, calling it the “culmination of my political career.”
“Georgia is a state that values life,” Kemp said before putting his signature to the LIFE Act. “We stand up for those who are unable to speak for themselves.”
Kemp said he recognizes the bill will be challenged.
“But our job is to do what is right, not what is easy,” Kemp added. “We will not back down. We will always continue to fight for life.”
Opponents have promised to sue over the constitutionality of the bill and argue that because some women don’t know they are pregnant when a heartbeat is detectable that the new law virtually bans all abortions in the state. It has been called the most extreme abortion law in the nation.
“This law is bafflingly unconstitutional. Bans like this have always been blocked by courts. We will be suing Georgia to make sure this law has the same fate,” Elisabeth Smith, Chief Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.
Supporters trumpet the bill — similar to ones passed in Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Iowa, and North Dakota — as protecting the constitutional right of unborn children and allowing pregnant mothers to collect child support payments from fathers.
The “heartbeat” bill will go into effect at the beginning of next year.
The bill made national headlines recently when liberal activist and actress Alyssa Milano, who has been filming a Netflix comedy in Atlanta, made headlines when she marched into Kemp’s office with a letter last month to speak out on the “heartbeat bill.” The letter was signed by 50 celebrities who vowed to boycott the state, which has a burgeoning movie industry, if the bill was signed into law.
“It’s a historic day for Georgia, for Georgia families, and for those precious unborn babies,” Rep. Ginny Ehrhart, a co-sponsor of the bill, told “Fox & Friends” Tuesday morning.