Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp Signs Anti-Abortion ‘Heartbeat Bill’ Into Law, Paving the Way for Supreme Court Challenge to Roe v. Wade

Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, center, signs legislation, Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Atlanta, banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks before many women know they’re pregnant. Kemp said he was signing the bill “to ensure that all Georgians have the opportunity to live, grow, learn and prosper in our great state.” (Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Georgia Gov. Kemp has signed into law the state’s “fetal heartbeat bill,” a piece of legislation that would prohibit abortion after a heartbeat is detected in an embryo. That is something that usually happens between five and six weeks into a women’s pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant.

Abortion rights advocates have called the bill an effective ban on abortion in the state.

“Georgia is a state that values life,” Kemp said at the bill signing on Tuesday morning. “We protect the innocent, we champion the vulnerable, we stand up and speak for those that are unable to speak for themselves.”

State Rep. Ed Setzler also spoke at the bill signing on Tuesday and called the legislation a “common sense issue,” saying that a preschooler would call a six-week-old embryo a baby. He also said the legislation “tries to strike a balance” between “the interest of women who find themselves in difficult circumstances” and what he called “the right thing.”

The bill appears to be a violation of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that protects a woman’s right to an abortion up until when the fetus is viable, which typically happens between 24 and 25 weeks. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights have promised to challenge the legislation long before it goes into effect in January 2020.

“This law is bafflingly unconstitutional,” said Elisabeth Smith, chief counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, in an email to CBS News on Tuesday morning. “Bans like this have always been blocked by courts. We will be suing Georgia to make sure this law has the same fate.”

At the bill signing, Kemp recognized that the bill will likely be “challenged in the court of law” but said Georgia will “always continue to fight for life.”

So-called “heartbeat bills” like Georgia’s have become a popular tool among states looking to reduce abortion access. At least 15 states have introduced similar legislation this year and the governors of Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio have signed theirs into law. None of those laws have been successfully enacted, according to the reproductive health research organization the Guttmacher Institute.

Emboldened by the addition of conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, states have introduced and passed more anti-abortion access legislation than ever before, said Elizabeth Nash, a senior state issues manager at Guttmacher.

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SOURCE: CBS News, Kate Smith