Georgia governor signs 'heartbeat' abortion ban into law

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Tuesday signed legislation banning abortions once a fetus has a detectable heartbeat, which generally occurs within six weeks of a pregnancy. 

Kemp's decision to sign the measure into law comes as GOP-led legislatures around the country move to enact stricter laws surrounding abortion. The legislation is set to become law on Jan. 1, according to Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB). 

The measure, HB 481, will bar doctors from performing abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Prior Georgia law allowed women to undergo an abortion within 20 weeks of a pregnancy. 

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Women may still receive an abortion if the pregnancy is believed to be "medically futile," GPB noted. Exceptions will also be granted to a woman whose life is at risk and if a police report has been filed related to rape or incest.

Planned Parenthood on Tuesday vowed to sue Georgia over the legislation and to work to remove GOP lawmakers who voted for it via the ballot box. 

"If you choose to vote against women’s rights, we’ll be voting against you in the next election," Staci Fox, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates, said in a statement. "We're putting lawmakers on notice: your votes are far outside the mainstream and we will now spend our time and energy launching a campaign to replace you. That work begins now. The people of this state stood up and spoke out against this draconian legislation and our lawmakers chose not to listen. Now we are mobilizing and we are coming for their seats."

Republican governors in Ohio, Kentucky and Mississippi signed versions of what is known as the fetal "heartbeat" bill earlier this year. The Louisiana state senate also advanced the measure on Monday, The Advocate reported

A federal judge temporarily blocked Kentucky's new abortion law in March, ruling that it was potentially unconstitutional. 

The Democratic National Committee denounced Kemp's signing on Tuesday as an "example of how the Trump administration’s anti-women policies have emboldened legislators across the country to attack women’s access to health care." 

--Updated 12:16 p.m.