ATLANTA — An election year fix to Georgia’s "heartbeat law" would likely have the backing of Gov. Brian Kemp. Anti-abortion groups want to adapt Georgia’s law to be more like the Texas law, which recently went before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Georgia’s heartbeat bill has been tied up in federal courts for two years, while the Supreme Court recently voted 5-4 early to deny an emergency appeal from abortion providers, leaving Texas' law in place.
The heartbeat bill dominated the 2019 session of the Georgia legislature – with daily protests from women dressed as characters from the "Handmaid’s Tale." But pro-life Georgians showed up too and the heartbeat bill passed with a two-vote majority in the state House.
"It’s much more wide and encompassing than what Texas has passed," said Josh Edmonds of the Georgia Life Alliance, who would like to see Georgia lawmakers adopt portions of the Texas law to help dislodge the heartbeat bill now stalled in court.
The new Texas law has a provision that encourages private citizens to sue abortion providers and individuals who help women obtain abortion services.
"We’re examining what it would look like to have a purely civil enforced heartbeat bill in Georgia," Edmonds told 11Alive News.
But, that provision enrages pro-choice advocates.
“It’s a bounty system. This law isn’t made to protect people. It’s made to shame women,” Lauren Frazier of Planned Parenthood Georgia told 11Alive News.
Governor Brian Kemp signed the heartbeat bill into law in 2019 and now says he will back legislative efforts to give that legislation Texas-style legal standing.
"We’re going to stay in the fight on the heartbeat bill. I certainly appreciate what they did in Texas," Kemp said. "We think it’ll be successful. And we’ll continue to see how the Texas case moves along and work with the legislature on anything they want to do that would be pro-life."
If it happens next year, the renewed abortion battle would be somewhat fresh on the minds of Georgia voters casting ballots later in 2022.