Georgia Governor Signs Unclear “Fetal Pain” Ban Into Effect

Posted on May 1, 2012

RH Reality Check, May 1, 2012 by Robin Marty

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has finally signed the state’s so called “fetal pain” ban into law — even though it’s not entirely clear when exactly abortion is being banned.

The contentious bill was nearly derailed in the senate after a fight ensued over whether or not to allow any exceptions for terminating pregnancies with deadly fetal anomalies, an exception the most radical anti-choicers could not abide. Eventually, the anti-choice and extreme anti-choice factions discovered they were willing to compromise and passed a bill that reproductive rights advocates and medical professionals found equally objectionable as it circumvents the decisions a woman deems best for her and her family and her doctor deems as best medical practice and best for the patient.

The legislature may have addressed the fatal anomaly exception, but what they didn’t address is the fact that it is unclear when exactly abortion is banned. Georgia declared abortion illegal “if the probable gestational age of the unborn child has been determined in accordance with Code Section 31-9B-2 to be 20 weeks or more,” but also declared gestational age to be defined as “the postfertilization age of the unborn child,” despite the fact that medically, gestational age means past last menstrual period, or two weeks earlier than fertilization.

Will the fact that the law is based on medically-inaccurate definitions be enough to challenge it in court and declare the law invalid? We can hope, but considering that the entire concept of “fetal pain” on which this and other laws are allegedly based is also disputed by science and medicine, it might be an uphill battle.


Posted in: Georgia