On Tuesday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed the most extreme abortion ban nationwide. The measure is a "fetal heartbeat bill," known as HB 481, that would outlaw abortion after six weeks, which is when a heartbeat is sometimes detected in an embryo, but before many women even know that they're pregnant. The bill doesn't just curtail women's reproductive freedom (no minor offense); it criminalizes the procedure itself, which means women who get an abortion could face life in prison and even the death penalty. That's because, as Slate explains, once HB 481 takes effect, a woman who terminates her own pregnancy with, for example, a drug easily available on the internet, "will have, as a matter of law, killed a human—thereby committing murder." Under Georgia law, the punishment for that crime is life imprisonment or capital punishment.
HB 481, which is due to take effect on January 1, 2020, would also have consequences for women who suffer a miscarriage. If a woman were to miscarry based on her behavior—such as use of drugs or alcohol—she would be liable for second-degree murder, which is punishable to 10 to 30 years' imprisonment. Even if she opted to leave Georgia to obtain an abortion—she'd still be just as liable for punishment in the state. If a woman travels to another state for an abortion, she may be charged with conspiracy to commit murder, which can lead to 10 years’ imprisonment. And if you're a woman who wants to help a friend cross state lines for her abortion, you could also be charged with "conspiracy."
Legal experts have been quick to point out that this bill appears to violate Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that protects a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy until the fetus is viable, typically between 24 and 25 weeks. And lawmakers have already called out the shaky legal ground on which HB 481 sits.
"This law is bafflingly unconstitutional," said Elisabeth Smith, chief counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, to CBS News. "Bans like this have always been blocked by courts. We will be suing Georgia to make sure this law has the same fate." Elizabeth Nash, a senior state issues manager at Guttmacher, also told CBS News, "The surge in attempts to ban abortion in the earliest stages of pregnancy underscores that the end goal of anti-abortion politicians and activists is to ban all abortion—at any point during pregnancy and for any reason."
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) took to Twitter to add that "6 weeks pregnant = 2 weeks late on your period. Most of the men writing these bills don’t know the first thing about a woman’s body outside of the things they want from it. It’s relatively common for a woman to have a late period + not be pregnant. So this is a backdoor ban. For context, this kicks in within days of a typical at-home test working. If you were sexually assaulted (stress delays cycle), took a morning-after pill (throws off cycle), or have an irregular cycle, you‘d have no idea. There are a TON of ways this law ignores basic biology."
Sadly, Georgia isn't the only state currently looking to limit access to abortions. In this year alone, state lawmakers have introduced more than 250 bills restricting abortion access, according to a study conducted by Planned Parenthood and Guttmacher. And six-week abortion bans, like Georgia's, are up by 62 percent, according to their research.
Originally Appeared on Glamour