Georgia Law Could Make Women Who Miscarry Liable For Second-Degree Murder

A new bill has been signed into law that would make it illegal in Georgia to have an abortion after a heartbeat can be detected.

According to the current regulations on abortion, a woman can get an abortion until they are at 20 weeks of pregnancy. As of January 2020, the new law comes into effect and it would reduce that time period down to about six or seven weeks for most pregnancies. Many women don’t even realize that they are pregnant at that point.

North Dakota and Iowa are also States that have enacted a ‘fetal heartbeat bill’ and Georgia has joined them.

“[The bill] is very simple but also very powerful: a declaration that all life has value, that all life matters, and that all life is worthy of protection,” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said on Tuesday morning before signing the legislation, CNN reports.

“I realize that some may challenge it in a court of law. But our job is to do what is right, not what is easy. We are called to be strong and courageous, and we will not back down. We will always continue to fight for life.”

According to Kemp, the bill would be a fight for life and in some cases, women may opt to get illegal abortions rather than facing the possibility for life in prison or even the death penalty. Most abortions would be outlawed, although there are some exemptions for incest, rape or if there is a danger to the mother’s health should the pregnancy continue. Most women will miss the opportunity for abortion before they realize they are pregnant.

“For context, this kicks in within days of a typical at-home test working,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter.

“If you were sexually assaulted (stress delays cycle), took a morning-after pill (throws off cycle), or have an irregular cycle, you‘d have no idea. There are a TON of ways this law ignores basic biology.”

Even if a woman were to find out early, they would have a very short amount of time to make such a monumental decision. Most people don’t take this choice lightly and they may have to come up with the cost of the abortion and book an appointment.

If abortions aren’t available, this new law may cause many women to seek unsafe or illegal abortions. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 million unsafe abortions take place on an annual basis according to the WHO. 7 million of those lead to complications, which is much higher than when they are carried out under regulated conditions.

Slate reports that the bill declares that “unborn children are a class of living, distinct person” that should receive “full legal recognition”. This may introduce a few problems, including the possibility for imprisoning pregnant women according to Andrew Fleischman.

The growing fetus would be considered a living, distinct individual with full legal recognition. Strictly speaking according to the law, a mother could be incarcerated and that would be similar to imprisoning someone who had not committed a crime and had no trial.

There is also the possibility that some women would seek abortions when they are not entitled to one according to the law. Women could even be prosecuted for seeking an abortion and charged with second-degree murder for having a miscarriage according to some estimations.

“A woman who miscarries because of her own conduct – say, using drugs while pregnant – would be liable for second-degree murder, punishable by 10 to 30 years’ imprisonment,” law reporter Mark Joseph Stern writes in Slate.

“Prosecutors may interrogate women who miscarry to determine whether they can be held responsible; if they find evidence of culpability, they may charge, detain, and try these women for the death of their fetuses.”

It still remains to be seen what is going to take place with this law.

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