ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
89°
Very Hot
H 95° L 70°
  • cloudy-day
    89°
    Current Conditions
    Very Hot. H 95° L 70°
  • very-hot
    95°
    Today
    Very Hot. H 95° L 70°
  • very-hot
    95°
    Tomorrow
    Very Hot. H 95° L 73°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb news on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

State & Regional Govt & Politics
Kemp signs anti-abortion ‘heartbeat’ legislation, sets up legal fight
Close

Kemp signs anti-abortion ‘heartbeat’ legislation, sets up legal fight

Kemp signs anti-abortion bill

Kemp signs anti-abortion ‘heartbeat’ legislation, sets up legal fight

When Gov. Brian Kemp signed one of the nation’s strictest anti-abortion bills into law on Tuesday, he made good on a campaign promise but also set the stage for a legal battle that the legislation’s critics hope will spill over to the polls in 2020.

Supporters filled a ceremonial room in Kemp’s office and applauded House Bill 481, which outlaws most abortions once a doctor can detect a fetus’ “heartbeat” — usually about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many women know they’re pregnant.

Meanwhile, opponents of the new law promised to file a lawsuit to keep the ban from going into effect, and groups such as Planned Parenthood announced plans to raise money to oust legislators who supported the measure.

Georgia’s law is one of several moving through Republican-run state governments across the country with the express purpose of challenging the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 that guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion until a fetus is “viable” — up until about 24 weeks of pregnancy. Georgia passed legislation in 2012 that banned abortions after 20 weeks.

Photos: Gov. Kemp signs anti-abortion ‘heartbeat’ bill 

Abortion rights groups vow payback as Kemp preps to sign ‘heartbeat’ bill

Could Georgia abortion law challenge Roe v. Wade?A look at abortion bills around the U.S. in 2019

States across the South advance anti-abortion ‘heartbeat’ legislation


At least 15 states, ranging from Maryland to Texas, are considering versions of “heartbeat” legislation in 2019.

Governors in Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio all have signed similar “heartbeat bills.” A federal judge has already issued a preliminary injunction against the Kentucky law, and similar laws enacted in recent years in Iowa and North Dakota have also been struck down in the courts.

Alabama is considering an even stricter bill that would make it a felony to perform abortions in almost all cases. Abortions could be performed only if the woman’s life is at risk.

In signing the bill in Georgia, Kemp kept a promise he made during his 2018 campaign.

“All life has value, all life matters and all life is worthy of protection,” Kemp said. “I’m signing this bill to ensure all Georgians have the opportunity to live, grow, learn and prosper in the great state of Georgia.”

The law is scheduled to go into effect in January unless it is blocked by the courts. The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia has vowed to sue the state over the new law.

In a press conference held on the Capitol steps shortly after Kemp signed the bill, the ACLU and other opponents of the law said the Athens Republican solidified his fate as a “one-term governor.”

“The governor has signed an unconstitutional abortion ban, a Frankenstein bill — a bill cobbled together with disparate parts derived from ideology, not science,” said Andrea Young, the executive director of the ACLU of Georgia. “(It’s) a bill that explicitly undermines women’s health care in Georgia.”

Though Kemp’s ceremonial office was full, the day drew far smaller crowds — on both sides of the issue — and a much smaller police presence than last month, when the measure won approval from the General Assembly. During the height of the debate, hundreds of people filled the Capitol to lobby lawmakers to vote their way, and nearly as many police officers patrolled the Statehouse grounds.

Democrats and opponents of the law also have vowed to take their energy to the polls next year, planning to challenge the Republican legislators who supported HB 481.

“We’re putting lawmakers on notice: Your votes are far outside the mainstream, and we will now spend our time and energy launching a campaign to replace you,” said Staci Fox, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast. “That work begins now.”

Some in the entertainment industry — including the Writers Guild of America and more than 40 celebrities — threatened to boycott the state if Kemp signed the bill. The governor brushed off the threat, saying he doesn’t base how he runs the state on what Hollywood thinks about legislation.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll conducted last month found that about 49% of Georgia voters surveyed oppose the bill, with about 44% saying they support it.

Each state pursuing “heartbeat” legislation has taken a slightly different approach.

In Georgia, later abortions still are allowed in cases of rape, incest, if the life of the woman is in danger or in instances of “medical futility,” when a fetus would not be able to survive after birth. To obtain an abortion after six weeks because of rape or incest, a woman would have to file a police report.

The anti-abortion organization Save the 1 said allowing exceptions to the abortion ban was discriminatory because it valued certain fetuses over others. The group has also vowed to sue the state.

The Georgia law includes what many supporters call “personhood” language, which would extend legal rights to fertilized eggs.

It allows parents, once a heartbeat is detected, to claim an embryo on their taxes as a dependent, and it would be counted toward the state’s population. A court can also order a father to pay child support after a heartbeat is detected.

State Sen. Renee Unterman, a Duluth Republican who ushered the legislation through the Senate, called the new law the “pinnacle of her legislative career.”

Unterman told the story of having a hysterectomy when she was in her 20s.

“I adopted two children and only by the courageous abilities of those birth mothers to give up those children,” she said. “That was my journey that started me on being so pro-life.”

The law exposes a woman to criminal prosecution for getting an abortion, as well as the doctor who performs the procedure, the nurse who assists and a pharmacist who prescribes medication that terminates a pregnancy. It grants exceptions to situations where the health or livelihood of the woman is at stake and for “the accidental or unintentional injury to or death of an unborn child.”

What defines a heartbeat is at the center of dispute.

Supporters say it should be used to establish when life begins.

“If you look at a child in the womb with a beating heart and a distinct blood type and you ask a schoolchild what that is, they know,” said Acworth Republican state Rep. Ed Setzler, the bill’s sponsor. “They say, ‘That’s a baby.’ ”

Doctors who oppose the law, however, said what appears to be a heartbeat at six weeks signals the practice motions of developing tissues that could not on their own power a fetus without the mother.

There are already about 20 lawsuits involving abortion that the U.S. Supreme Court could consider that would challenge Roe v. Wade, but supporters of Georgia’s new law said they believe it is the one that will overturn the landmark ruling.

Defending the state’s law will be costly.

For example, Louisiana spent more than $1 million on private attorneys defending a 2014 anti-abortion law that attempts to require doctors who perform the procedure to have admitting rights at a nearby hospital.

That amount could balloon quickly after a federal judge ruled in 2017 that requiring admitting privileges was unconstitutional. Lawyers for a clinic that performs abortions have asked for $4.7 million to pay for legal fees. Louisiana is appealing the 2017 ruling.

With Georgia’s law not going into effect until January, it’s unclear when state groups will file their lawsuits. But they say they are coming.

“We will see Governor Kemp in court,” Young said.

BALANCED COVERAGE

The debate over the anti-abortion legislation signed into law Tuesday is divisive, and these types of controversial stories receive special treatment. We always try to present as much information as possible so that readers can use those facts to reach their own conclusions.

To do that, we rely on a variety of sources that represent multiple points of view.

Today’s story, for example, includes comments from state Rep.Ed Setzler, the legislation’s sponsor, and other supporters, as well as responses from Democrats fighting the legislation.

Read More

News

  • Detroit police are searching for the gunman who shot and killed a teenager Saturday over his expensive glasses, according to news reports. >> Read more trending news  The deadly robbery over a pricey pair of Cartier glasses happened on the city’s east side at a gas station, WXYZ-TV reported. The teen was first transported to a local hospital where he was listed in temporary serious condition, but he later died of his injuries. The shooter jumped into the rear seat of a red Chevrolet Cobalt with three other men inside after shooting the teen, the news station reported. >> Related: Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee allegedly suffered elder abuse; former manager arrested Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying the gunman. He’s described as an African American man between 20 and 25 years old with a slim build, weighing around 175 pounds.  
  • Two huge boulders crashed onto a highway in southwest Colorado about 12 miles north of Delores in Montezuma County on Friday, shutting down the road indefinitely until crews can remove the rocks. >> Read more trending news  The rocks, weighing a combined 10 million pounds, plummeted off a cliff some 850 feet above Colorado Highway 145, according to KCNC-TV. One of the boulders is as large as house, an official with the Colorado Department of Transportation told KUSA-TV. The rocks destroyed the highway pavement and created a trench 8 feet deep, CDOT said on social media. The regional transportation director for CDOT in southwest Colorado, Mike McVaugh said repair crews were surprised when they arrived at the scene. “They sent a plow truck out, they sent a supervisor out. They showed up on-site and they were like, ‘That’s not going to work. We’ve got some really big rocks here,’” McVaugh recounted.  >> Trending: Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee allegedly suffered elder abuse; former manager arrested Highway crews are working to repair the road but will have to blast the larger rock into smaller pieces to remove it. Meanwhile, CO 145 between Cortez and Telluride will remain closed.
  • If you’re trying to lose weight, you should hop on the scale daily, according to a new report.  >> Read more trending news  Researchers from the University of Georgia recently conducted a study, published in the Obesity journal, to determine the benefits of daily self-weighing during the holiday season. To do so, they split 111 adults, aged 18 to 65, into two groups. One group was required to avoid weight gain and to weigh themselves daily on scales that also provided graphical feedback on their weight fluctuations. Those in the control group were given no instructions at all. After analyzing the results, the subjects who weighed themselves daily maintained or lost weight during and after the holiday season. However, those in the control group gained weight.  >> Related: Muscle-building protein shakes linked to weight gain, depression in new study “Maybe they exercise a little bit more the next day (after seeing a weight increase) or they watch what they're eating more carefully,” co-author Jamie Cooper said in a statement. “The subjects self-select how they're going to modify their behavior, which can be effective because we know that interventions are not one-size-fits-all.” She also said, “People are really sensitive to discrepancies or differences between their current selves and their standard or goal. When they see that discrepancy, it tends to lead to behavioral change. Daily self-weighing ends up doing that for people in a really clear way.” The scientists believe the subjects may have also changed their behavioral patterns, because they knew their weight would be recorded daily. They said their study was a form of intervention, it was effective because of its simplicity and adaptability.  >> Related: Intermittent fasting pros and cons: Should nurses try it? The team now hopes future investigations will assess self-weighing using scales that do not provide additional feedback. 
  • Officials said Interstate 77 southbound in Charlotte, North Carolina, was briefly shut down after a fire engulfed a bus. One person was killed and four others were hospitalized with non-life- threatening injuries. >> Read more trending news  The incident happened at about 2:15 p.m. Sunday. The North Carolina State Highway Patrol told WSOC that a private bus crashed into a wall when attempting to exit the freeway. Trooper Ray Pierce told WSOC the deceased victim is an 82-year-old woman. He said one of the four people injured is in serious condition. Pierce said the bus caught fire after hitting the wall. WSOC confirmed the bus belongs to Victory Christian Center in Charlotte.
  • Memorial Day weekend is a time of reflection, travel and time with friends and family, but it can also be a dangerous time for drinking and driving. KRCR reported that the California Highway Patrol said in a tweet Sunday afternoon that there have been 741 DUI arrests this weekend so far. The arrests come as CHP has entered a maximum enforcement period, which started at 6 p.m. local time Friday and will last through Monday at 11:59 p.m. local time. >> Read more trending news  “There’s no excuse for driving impaired. Stay Put. Call a cab or ride share,” the  law enforcement agency said in a tweet. “Arrange for a sober driver in advance. Stop putting your life and the lives of innocent people at risk.” In addition to finding alternate means of transportation when drinking, CHP is reminding people to use seat belts. The agency said at least eight people died in a crash within the first six hours of the maximum enforcement period for the holiday weekend. CHP said more than half of those who died were not wearing seat belts. “One of the simplest things a person can do to stay safe is to buckle up,” CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley said in a Tuesday statement. “Not only does the law require vehicle occupants to wear a seat belt, but it helps protect against injury or death.”
  • Authorities in Dawson County are trying to find a man who they say walked away during a work detail.  Jeremy Pruitt-Akins, 29, was in in custody on a work release Saturday, the sheriff’s office said. Authorities said Pruit-Akins did not return to the Dawson County Detention Center at the end of his shift.  The sheriff’s office said he might be heading to Colorado by bus, but authorities aren’t sure if he went to the Gainesville or Atlanta bus station.  Officials believe he might be with Lea Marie Nichole Propst, 27. According to the sheriff’s office Pruitt-Akins has no pending charges, but there is an active escape warrant out against him. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is urged to contact the Dawson sheriff’s office at 706-344-3636. In other news: