Blocked heartbeat bill is a victory for women

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This May 7, 2019, file photo shows Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signing legislation, in Atlanta, banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. A federal judge on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019, temporarily blocked Georgia’s restrictive new abortion law from taking effect, following the lead of other judges who have blocked similar measures in other states.  Photo by Bob Andres/The Associated Press.

This May 7, 2019, file photo shows Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signing legislation, in Atlanta, banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. A federal judge on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019, temporarily blocked Georgia’s restrictive new abortion law from taking effect, following the lead of other judges who have blocked similar measures in other states. Photo by Bob Andres/The Associated Press.

On Oct. 1, women across the U.S. earned a victory when a federal judge blocked an abortion bill originally signed into law by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. If it had gone into effect, the bill would have prevented women from getting an abortion if a fetal heartbeat could be detected, which normally occurs between six to eight weeks after conception. Most women during this time do not even know they are pregnant. 

In the past few months, certain states have been trying to pass bills restricting abortions in this way. These state legislators are trying to get around the court case Roe v. Wade, which protects a woman’s right to an abortion for 22-24 weeks after conception, by creating these bills that allow abortion only for a very small period of time. These bills do however essentially make abortion illegal because women usually only find out that they are pregnant after the fetal heartbeat can be detected. Therefore, if at this point a woman wanted an abortion, she would not be able to get one. 

The fact that this bill was blocked is a victory for women’s rights. Abortion should be a right, not something regulated by the government. Women should have the right to choose what happens to their bodies and should not be subject to inane laws. 

Judge Steve Jones of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia blocked the law as it is being argued in the courts. His reasoning for blocking the law is because it is unconstitutional as it violates a woman’s right to privacy. 

“Under no circumstances whatsoever may a state prohibit or ban abortions at any point prior to viability, no matter what interests the state asserts to support it,” Jones wrote in response to the bill. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2019/10/01/federal-judge-blocks-georgia-abortion-ban-taking-effect/

Georgia is not the first state to propose a “heartbeat bill.” Earlier in the year, Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio passed a similar bill, which prohibited abortion after a fetal heartbeat could be detected. This law was also blocked by a federal judge in July.

Anti-abortion advocates are continuing to fight for, as many of them refer to it, the “rights of the unborn,” by continuing to propose restrictive legislation such as the heartbeat bills and by working to contest the Roe v. Wade decision. 

These advocates are clearly valuing the “rights of the unborn” over the rights of those who already have lives. They are essentially saying that the rights of a fetus should be valued more than a girl or woman. 

Candice Broce, a spokesperson for Kemp, spoke in favor of the bill. “We will continue to fight for the unborn and work to ensure that all Georgians have the opportunity to live, grow and prosper,” Broce wrote in a statement. 

If Broce and other anti-abortion activists really value the lives of all people, what about the lives of the women who are saddled with a pregnancy that they do not want? That can easily ruin both the lives of the woman who is forced to give birth to the child and the child after it is born. But no, the anti-abortion activists value the lives of an unborn fetus over the lives of actual living humans. 

Women deserve the right to have control over their own bodies, without people who have no idea what they are going through determining what they should do. The heartbeat bill could destroy the lives of many because it will prevent women from being able to choose what happens to their body. 

Hopefully, the fact that this heartbeat bill and the one in Ohio were blocked will set a precedent for declaring such bills unconstitutional. What happens to a person’s body should not be determined by anyone other than herself. 


Anika Veeraraghav is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at anika.veeraraghav@uconn.edu.

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