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Anti-abortion 'heartbeat' bill debate divided along party lines in Georgia

Georgia's Senate approved the controversial "heartbeat" abortion bill on Friday afternoon.

ATLANTA — The State Capitol was slammed with demonstrators Friday on both sides of the abortion issue, as the state Senate debated a controversial bill.

The measure passed the Georgia Senate.

The "heartbeat" abortion bill would roll back the state’s abortion rights, with the blessing of Gov. Brian Kemp.The debate went along party lines with Democrats solidly opposed and Republicans in favor of the measure.

Many Pro-life Senators took a biblical stance on the issue. 

"God knew us and had a plan for us when we were in the mother’s womb," said Sen. Greg Kirk (R-Americus).

RELATED: 'Heartbeat' abortion bill approved by Georgia Senate

RELATED: Crowds gathered at Georgia Capitol as Senate debated 'heartbeat' abortion bill

An audience lined up 50 deep outside the Senate gallery – and a dozen state troopers were inside to keep order.  Friday morning, troopers lined up 30 state patrol vehicles outside the Capitol, though the law enforcement presence inside wasn't nearly as visual.

"If we need this much police presence and law enforcement, we might be doing something wrong," said state Sen. Zahra Karinshak (D-Duluth), an opponent of the bill.

RELATED: We asked a Georgia lawmaker how a proposed abortion bill would be implemented in cases of rape

The bill would tightly restrict when women in Georgia can get abortions.  Current law allows abortions up to 20 weeks gestation. This measure would roll that back to six weeks when backers say a fetal heartbeat is detectable.

It makes an exception for rape and incest, allowing abortion up to twenty weeks. But it requires women to file “an official police report … alleging the offense of rape or incest” in order to qualify for the later-term abortion. 

"Arguments about the rights and freedoms of women are compelling and they're not without merit. But they are incomplete and result in injustice and the oppression of the weakest people," said state Sen. PK Martin IV (R-Lawrenceville), a supporter of the bill.

RELATED: 3 buried facts about Georgia's 'heartbeat' abortion bill

The bill now goes back to the Georgia House for final consideration.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who has signaled that he would sign the bill, issued a statement saying “Today, the State Senate affirmed Georgia’s commitment to life and the rights of the innocent unborn. I applaud the members who supported the heartbeat bill’s passage for protecting the vulnerable and giving a voice to those who cannot yet speak for themselves. I look forward to working with the House to ensure this legislation’s final passage in the coming days.”

The ACLU plans to challenge this if the bill becomes law.


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