Georgia is set to join six other states in passing a bill that bans abortion after 20 weeks unless it is a “medically futile” procedure–as in if the woman’s life is at risk. There is no provision for rape and incest and there is no provision for mental and emotional health.
This bill got national media attention after Republican Rep. Terry England compared women to farm animals stating if farm animals have to carry dead calves to term, so should women. England thinks people with uteruses are walking incubators, their sole purpose is to pop out babies. Also, what a contradiction of terms–I thought woman-hating conservatives like him hate comparing humans to animals–because they believe in creationism? What we can’t come from apes, but we have to carry babies like cows? I’m so confused.
And what does “medically futile” mean exactly?
In order for a pregnancy to be considered “medically futile,” the fetus must be diagnosed with an irreversible chromosomal or congenital anomaly that is “incompatible with sustaining life after birth.” The Georgia “fetal pain” bill also stipulates that the abortion must be performed in such a way that the fetus emerges alive. If doctors perform the abortion differently, they face felony charges and up to 10 years in prison. Given all this, the so-called compromise suddenly does not look like much of a bargain.
And it’s important to remember “fetal pain” is scientifically unsound.
For anti-choice lawmakers, it is an item of faith that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks. But scientists disagree. Reviews of all existing medical evidence have found that fetuses have not developed the neurological structures to feel pain until at least 25 weeks, and likely not until 28 weeks, in the third trimester.
Abortion after 20 weeks is rare and generally as a result of lack of access or because you are living in a place where you couldn’t get to the doctor. Maybe you didn’t have enough money so it took you some time or maybe you just learned that you do not have a viable pregnancy. It is a rare, in fact, as Amanda notes at RH Reality Check–only 1.5% of all abortions happen after the 20th week. So the women that are impacted by these laws are often the most disenfranchised.
And Arizona has proposed a similar bill, only theirs is worse–attempting to declare a woman pregnant before she actually might be pregnant.
But let’s be clear about what these bills are trying to do–they are not about “fetal pain”–they are about laying the legal groundwork to chip away at Roe v. Wade. Roe protects access to abortion up to 24 weeks–these laws blatantly ignore this precedent. The bill in Georgia is set to hit the Governor’s desk for signature.