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/How does Alabamas near-total abortion ban bill compare to Georgias fetal heartbeat law?
How does Alabamas near-total abortion ban bill compare to Georgias fetal heartbeat law?

How does Alabamas near-total abortion ban bill compare to Georgias fetal heartbeat law?

Several states have passed controversial “heartbeat” abortion bills, and several more are considering similar legislation.


In 2019, more than a dozen states have either passed or attempted to pass stricter abortion legislation. Alabama is currently weighing a bill that would be the most restrictive in the nation. 
Georgia’s Gov. Brian Kemp has already signed a bill that would make performing an abortion illegal once a heartbeat is detected. That new law is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1.
Two other states — Ohio and Mississippi — have passed similar legislation. The bills are expected to face litigation.
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Here are similarities and differences between the Georgia law and the Alabama proposed law:
When can you get an abortion?
Current state law in both states outlaws abortion after 20 weeks unless the woman’s health is at risk. Georgia’s newly signed law would change the time period to six weeks of pregnancy, a time period in which many critics say many women aren’t yet aware of their pregnancy.
Alabama lawmakers in the House and Senate have sent a bill to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk that would ban nearly all abortions in the state at any stage of the pregnancy unless the mother’s physical or mental health is in jeopardy.
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What about in cases of rape or incest?
The law Georgia Gov. Kemp signed this May does include an exception in cases of rape and incest. As the law is written, it requires that the pregnancy is at 20 weeks or less and an official police report must be filed alleging the rape and/or incest.
The same is currently true for Alabama but the state’s House has passed a bill without an exception for rape and incest. The Senate weighed an amendment from Democrats asking for an exemption in cases of rape and incest, which failed to pass. The Senate passed the bill and sent it to Gov. Ivey’s desk.


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If abortions are a crime, what is the penalty? Who is liable?
Currently, breaking abortion law in Georgia can be punished with imprisonment “for not less than one nor more than 10 years.” The newly signed bill gives no indication as to who would be charged with penalties and what, if any, those penalties would be.
Some have speculated that since the bill recognizes unborn children as “natural persons,” that women who choose abortion or miscarry or the medical professionals who help them, would face murder charges, but the term has been used routinely in the previous criminal code, which the measure does not repeal.
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Alabama is currently weighing whether to punish a doctor who performs an abortion with a Class A felony — punishable by life or 10 to 99 years in prison. Attempting to perform an abortion would be a Class C felony, punishable by one to 10 years in prison. The woman seeking an abortion would not face charges under the bill.
Alabama’ Senate is currently weighing the measure. In the House, which has approved the near total-abortion ban, Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, says the purpose of the bill is to challenge the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. 
“The heart of this bill is to confront a decision that was made by the courts in 1973 that said the baby in the womb is not a person,” Collins said. “This bill addresses that one issue. Is that baby in the womb a person? I believe our law says it is. I believe our people say it is. And I believe technology shows it is.”
Nate Chute is a producer with the USA Today Network. Follow him on Twitter at @nchute.
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