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Ga. Legislature Approves 20-Week Abortion Ban With Exemption for 'Medically Futile' Pregnancies

Ga. Legislature Approves 20-Week Abortion Ban With Exemption for 'Medically Futile' Pregnancies

April 2, 2012 — After a last-minute compromise, the Georgia Legislature on Thursday approved a bill (HB 954) that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Although House leaders previously rejected the Senate's version of the bill, lawmakers were able to resolve a dispute over an exemption for "medically futile" pregnancies shortly before adjourning for the year.

Under a version of the bill that the Senate approved last week, pregnancies would have been considered medically futile if a fetus had congenital or chromosomal defects. The compromise bill added language to define medically futile as severe and "irremediable" anomalies that are "incompatible with sustaining life after birth."

The bill would impose felony charges on doctors convicted of violating its provisions, with penalties of up to 10 years in prison. The compromise also included a Senate provision that would protect physicians from civil suits related to the legislation.

Democratic female senators protested the vote, staging a walkout after the compromise bill passed in their chamber. The bill passed the House shortly thereafter. Sen. Nan Orrock (D) said, "The GOP war on women is alive and well in Georgia."

Rep. Doug McKillip (R), who sponsored the original bill, and its supporters, including Georgia Right to Life President Dan Becker, were satisfied with the outcome (Torres/Quinn, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/29).