On the last day of the legislative session Georgia Republicans pushed, and got, a “fetal pain” bill, just not the exact bill they had hoped for. The original bill would have cut by nearly six weeks the time women in Georgia may have to have an elective abortion. The original General Assembly bill made no exceptions, not even when the life of the mother was in danger or the fetus was not viable outside the womb.
The Senate changed the bill to include an exemption for “medically futile” pregnancies and giving doctors the option to perform an abortion later than 20 weeks when a fetus has congenital or chromosomal defects.
Initially the House refused to accept the changes and the bill looked certain to die without a vote. But then a compromise emerged that included a definition of a “medically futile” pregnancy to include only those pregnancies that have “profound” and “irremediable anomalies” that would be “incompatible with sustaining life after birth.” The bill also requires that a woman who is carrying a non-viable fetus abort in a way “to bring the fetus out alive” whenever possible which would require induction which would force the mother to have labor and deliver the non-viable fetus.
Another change to the bill protects doctors from medical malpractice suits brought as a result of the legislation, including any related to the trauma of having the state force a mother to labor and deliver a non-viable fetus.
The debate was so heated and the bill is so divisive it actually resulted in fist fights in the lobby of the capital. You’d think that was a sign that perhaps a piece of legislation was simply bad public policy.
The last hope for killing this bill is if Gov. Nathan Deal refuses to sign it.
Photo from faul via flickr.