On Tuesday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the state’s so-called “fetal heartbeat” law, banning abortion for women well before many know that they’re pregnant and ushering in one of the harshest abortion bans in the country.
The law, the “Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act,” bans abortions in the state after a fetal heartbeat is detected—typically within five to six weeks of conception, long before many women learn they’re pregnant.
Georgia joins Kentucky, Iowa, Mississippi, Ohio, and North Dakota in passing a measure that reproductive rights advocates call a de facto ban on abortion. According to the Guttmacher Institute, none of these bills have gone into effect.
“Georgia is a state that values life,” Kemp said before signing the law. “We stand up for those who are unable to speak for themselves.”
Kemp went on to acknowledge that the law will be challenged. “But our job is to do what is right, not what is easy,” Kemp he continued. “We will not back down. We will always continue to fight for life.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has long promised to challenge the bill should it become a law. Experts say these legal challenges are a part of states’ plans to overturn Roe v. Wade, emboldened by a conservative presence on the Supreme Court.
According to a study by Planned Parenthood and Guttmacher, six-week abortion bans are up by 63 percent, and state lawmakers have introduced more than 250 bills to restricting abortion just this year. While laws are blocked by federal judges, states can appeal decisions twice, the second time to the Supreme Court.
The Georgia law doesn’t go into effect until January 2020. But the state’s abortion laws are already difficult enough to navigate without it: Currently, women seeking an abortion are forced to endure a 24-hour waiting period before undergoing the procedure, and minors are required to notify their parents that they’re getting an abortion.
“This legislative session could turn out to be the most harmful for women’s health in decades,” Dr. Leana Wen, Planned Parenthood Federation of America president, told CBS News. “It’s no coincidence: with Trump in the White House and Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, anti-women’s health politicians are pushing an extreme agenda to take away all access to safe, legal abortion.”