Georgia Republicans are pushing a bill that would make abortions after 20 weeks illegal, pushing back the current 26-week period. House Bill 954 claims that “by 20 weeks after fertilization there is substantial evidence that an unborn child has the physical structures necessary to experience pain.”
Jay Bookman at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution points out that there is no substantial evidence that fetuses experience pain at 20 weeks, writing:
Although a relative handful of scientists claim otherwise — and many of those scientists are pro-life activists — the overwhelming scientific consensus is that the neural connections needed to feel pain do not exist in a fetus until at least 24 weeks into gestation and even beyond that. A 2010 review of all research in that area by Britain’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists makes the science behind the question quite clear.
Fetal abnormalities are generally not detectable in the first 20 weeks and the bill envisioned by Georgia's legislators does not provide any exemptions for the health or viability of the fetus. The bill would force women to undergo what Christian woman Danielle Deaver experienced in Nebraska. Serious abnormalities were discovered 22 weeks into her planned pregnancy but she was forced to carry the pregnancy to term, giving birth to a baby that quickly died. For six days, Deaver was in pain, waiting for the natural birth and suffered an infection during the process.
Georgia's lawmakers, like those in Idaho, Missouri and Arizona, are also working on a bill challenging President Obama's health insurance mandate on birth control coverage so that religious institutions could opt out of providing insurance coverage for things that they find "morally objectionable."
In response to the wave of legislation targeted at women, Georgia State Rep. Yasmin Neal (D-75) introduced the Anti-Vasectomy Act so that her male colleagues could experience what women are currently subjected to:
Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation over vasectomies. It is patently unfair that a man can avoid the rewards of an unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgment over such matters is more valid than the judgment of the General Assembly while a woman's ability to decide is constantly up for debate throughout the United States. Women, our bodies, and what we do with it are always up for debate.
This bill's been drafted for all women who have the wherewithal to choose. The day has come where men should feel the same pressure and invasion of privacy that women have faced for years.
I've introduced this legislation because it is the purpose of the General Assembly to assert an invasive state interest in the reproductive habits of men in the state and substitute the will of the government over the will of adult men. This bill states that vasectomies can be performed to avert the death of a man or to avert serious risk or substantial or irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the man. This bill mimics the abortion bills throughout the nation and just like the abortion bills interfere with the woman's right to choose, it's only fair that the General Assembly debate the men's right to choose as well.
I invite you to attend the public hearing on Wednesday, February 22, at 3:00.