Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a bill yesterday that prohibits women in the state from having an abortion after 20 weeks gestation, on the unsupported premise that the fetus can experience pain at 20 weeks. The "fetal pain" bill was passed in the Senate 36 to 19 at the end of March. The bill passed with an amendment allowing for an exception for "medically futile" pregnancies, which would apply in cases where the fetus experiences a fatal "congenital or chromosomal defect."
The law does not include exceptions for rape or incest. Executive director of the Feminist Women's Health Center, Nancy Booth, said this is especially problematic because "we've seen girls as young as 11 and 12 and it's always a case of incest and abuse and molestation." Lois Reis of Planned Parenthood Southeast said, "This is now interfering with how a physician can practice medicine in the best interest of his or her client; women don't ask their legislators for health care information, they trust their doctors."
Georgia is now the 8th state to have a "fetal pain" restriction. Nebraska, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Alabama all have the restrictions and Arizona just passed its restriction earlier this month. The American College of Gynecology disputes assertions that a fetus can feel pain at the 20 weeks gestation period, stating that there is "no legitimate evidence that fetuses can experience pain."
Media Resources: Reuters 5/1/12; CBS Atlanta 5/1/12; Public Broadcasting Atlanta 5/1/12; Feminist Daily News Wire 4/13/12; Feminist Daily News Wire 3/28/12