Georgia House gives final approval to 'heartbeat' abortion bill

The Georgia House on Friday gave final approval to legislation banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, sending the so-called "heartbeat" bill to the desk of Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.

The measure passed with 92 votes in the 180-member chamber — just one more than the majority needed to pass, The Associated Press reported.


Kemp vowed to sign the bill, which would be the toughest abortion law in the country, during his time on the campaign trail.

"Georgia values life," Kemp said in a statement Friday. "The legislature’s bold action reaffirms our priorities and who we are as a state."

The bill was passed last week by the state Senate.

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

The legislation makes exceptions in the case of rape and incest — but only when the woman files a police report first, the AP noted. It also allows exceptions to save the mother's life or when it has been determined that the fetus has serious medical issues and wouldn't be viable outside the mother’s womb.

The law would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, if it is signed into law and not blocked by the courts.

The Writers Guild of America and more than 40 Hollywood actors have threatened to boycott the state of Georgia — the third-biggest state for film and TV production — if the bill becomes law. 

Republicans in several other states have pursued similar "heartbeat" bills in recent months despite the legal battles from the advocate groups. 

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) signed the bill last week, and shortly thereafter, a federal judge temporarily blocked the law.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Georgia vowed to challenge the law if the governor signs it into law. 

"Under 50 years of Supreme Court precedent, this bill is blatantly unconstitutional," Sean Young, legal director for the ACLU of Georgia, told the AP. "That is why every single federal court that has considered such bans has struck them down."