ATLANTA — Georgia lawmakers can expect another round of anti-abortion legislation this year – now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned the right to abortion and the state has implemented the heartbeat law.
State law now restricts doctors from performing abortion services after about six weeks of gestation. But state law doesn’t clearly restrict women who want abortions from obtaining abortion medication themselves.
Mike Griffin is among those who think it should.
"I believe this is skirting around the heartbeat law legislation that was passed and is now being implemented. And I think something needs to be done to tighten that regulation up," Griffin, of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, told 11Alive.
Last legislative session, lawmakers took up a bill to make it illegal to provide abortion inducing drugs via any courier delivery or mail service, specifically mentioning three different abortion drugs.
It would have required women seeking abortions from medications to get an ultrasound first, and required women to be informed “she may see the remains of her unborn child in the process.”
Opponents of the bill included some doctors, who said it would actually harm women by giving them fewer options before a fetal heartbeat is detected.
“Requiring her to see me in person does not increase her safety,” Dr. Carrie Cwiak, an OB/GYN, told a Senate committee in March 2022. "If you wait longer because you have unnecessary barriers, you have less chance of having success and you have more adverse outcomes.”
That bill never got a vote last year. But with the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade – and with the state enforcing the contentious heartbeat law, albeit still under legal challenge -- backers say the bill will be a pro-life priority starting next week.
"Our job isn't over just because Roe is gone and the Heartbeat Bill is in effect. In fact, it's just getting started," Elizabeth Edmonds, Leadership Director of the Georgia Life Alliance, wrote to supporters this week. She described the effort to end telemed abortions as the organization's "top priority" in 2023.
"We’re looking forward to the day when we make abortion unthinkable," Griffin said.
There’s been a lot of membership churn in the legislature since the heartbeat bill barely passed in 2019. What’s unclear now is whether any new restrictive abortion bill can pass again in 2023.