On May 8, the United State's Governor of Georgia Brian Kemp signed the most extreme abortion ban across the country. The measure is a "fetal heartbeat bill", known as the HB 481, that would outlaw abortion after six weeks, which is when a heartbeat is sometimes detected in an embryo, but before many women know that they're pregnant.
The bill criminalises the procedure itself, which means women who get an abortion could face life in prison and even the death penalty. That's because, as Slate explains, once HB 481 takes effect, a woman who terminates her own pregnancy with, for example, a drug easily available on the internet, "will have, as a matter of law, killed a human, thereby committing murder." Under Georgia law, the punishment for that crime is life imprisonment or capital punishment.
HB 481, which is due to take effect on January 1, 2020, would also have consequences for women who suffer a miscarriage. If a woman was to miscarry based on her behaviour, such as the use of drugs or alcohol, she would be liable for second-degree murder, which is punishable to 10 to 30 years' imprisonment.
"This law is bafflingly unconstitutional," said Elisabeth Smith, chief counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, to CBS News. "Bans like this have always been blocked by courts. We will be suing Georgia to make sure this law has the same fate." Elizabeth Nash, a senior state issues manager at Guttmacher, also told CBS News, "The surge in attempts to ban abortion in the earliest stages of pregnancy underscores that the end goal of anti-abortion politicians and activists is to ban all abortion—at any point during pregnancy and for any reason."
Since news of HB 481 broke, the images of 25 US politicians who spearheaded the abortion ban has gone viral. The Guardian writes, "These are the 25 men who voted to pass the most restrictive abortion law in the United States, outlawing the procedure at all stages of pregnancy.
"The near-blanket ban contains an exemption for when a woman's health is at serious risk, but not for rape or incest. Doctors who perform the procedure could face up to 99 years in prison. It’s the sixteenth state this year to place restrictions on abortion rights. Just four women sit in the Alabama senate, all of whom are part of the Democratic party minority and voted against the bill."