The proposal, debated Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, would make it a criminal offense to perform an abortion after 20 weeks. Violators could face a fine or up to five years in prison. The bill provides exemptions if an abortion is necessary to save a woman’s life, or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. Under the bill, any woman who undergoes an illegal abortion would not be prosecuted.
The bill, sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), has been co-signed by 44 senators, including Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), among others. Graham has sponsored this bill every year since 2013, according to the Associated Press.
Democrats and opponents argue that the bill would restrict a woman’s right to choose and violate Roe V. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
One of those who testified against the bill was Sen. Jordan, who represents District 6, which encompasses Marietta, Smyrna, Vinings, Buckhead, Chastain Park, Historic Brookhaven and Sandy Springs.
“I’ve been pregnant 10 times. I’ve seen what many call a ‘heartbeat’ 10 times but I’ve only given birth twice,” Jordan said at the hearing in Washington, D.C. “I’ve lost seven pregnancies at varying points of time before 20 weeks and one at five months.”
Georgia passed a version of Graham’s bill in 2012, restricting late-term abortions to 20 weeks.
Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) is prepared to sign the so-called “heartbeat bill” that would outlaw abortion after six weeks statewide. The controversial proposal, which has been slammed by pro-choice supporters and members of the TV and film industry, passed the Senate and is awaiting Kemp’s signature for approval.
Jordan said that, since Georgia first passed abortion restrictions in 2012, the state has become “more dangerous to give birth.” She said that 50 percent of Georgia counties have no OB/GYN doctors and 17 rural hospitals have closed within the past seven years.
“States like Georgia have already served as test cases for the effects of these Constitutional bans,” Jordan said. “The women of my state have already suffered the consequences that I pray the rest of the women in this country won’t have to bear.”
Jordan described in heartbreaking detail how she felt when she was told her pregnancy wasn’t viable.
“I have laid on the cold examination table while a doctor desperately looked for any sign of life. I have been escorted out of the back of my physician’s office so as not to upset the other pregnant women in the waiting area,” Jordan said. “My grief was on full display and uncontainable.”
She continued, saying that every woman must be able to make the decisions that work best for her body and situation. According to Planned Parenthood, illegal abortions caused at least one in six pregnancy-related deaths prior to Roe V. Wade. Today, nearly one in four American women will have an abortion in her lifetime.
“… no matter my faith, my belief, my losses, I have never ever strayed from the basic principal that each woman must be able to make her own decisions in consultation with her god and her family … it is not for the government to insert itself in the most personal, private and wrenching decisions that women make every single day,” Jordan said. “My experience was not about abortion, but I believe it’s what’s at stake here. It’s about the fundamental right to privacy of women. Matters such as a woman’s ability to chose to start a family or terminate a pregnancy involve the most intimate and personal decisions a person can make.”
If Graham’s bill managed to pass the Senate and Democrat-controlled House, then signed into law, it could expect to be challenged. Even so, with a conservative majority in the Supreme Court, it is possible the legislation could be upheld.