Georgia Senate passes 'heartbeat' abortion bill

The Georgia state Senate passed a bill on Friday that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The bill, backed by Gov. Brian Kemp (R), would give Georgia one of the strictest abortion laws in the country if enacted, according to the Associated Press.

Current state law allows women to seek an abortion up to 20 weeks into pregnancy. If passed, the measure could limit abortions to as early as six weeks, before some women even know they are pregnant.

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The bill passed the state Senate in a party-line vote of 34-18 and now heads back to the House to concur Senate changes.

A number of lawmakers outlined their support for the legislation in religious terms, the AP reported.

“There are many scriptures that make it clear to me that God knew us and had a plan for us when we were still in our mother’s womb,” state Sen. Greg Kirk (R). “The word abortion is not going to be found in the Bible.”

The AP reports several protests, including women clad in red robes like characters from the television show “The Handmaid’s Tale,” were present at the Georgia statehouse Friday as the vote took place.

Republican-led legislatures in other states recently have pushed the controversial “heartbeat” abortion ban, though it remains unclear if the laws would hold up if challenged in court.