On Tuesday, Georgia passed a so-called “heartbeat” bill, scheduled to take effect in January 2020, banning abortions as early as the sixth week of pregnancy, when, as anti-abortion activists argue, a fetal heartbeat can be detected. It’s a time before many women realize they are pregnant. Brian Kemp is the fourth governor to sign such a law in 2019, and the sixth overall, including the governors of Ohio, Mississippi, Kentucky, Iowa and North Dakota.

Georgia’s law, HB481, or the Living Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, is particularly extreme because it requires that the state “recognize unborn children as natural persons,” and that they “shall be included in population based determinations.” As Mark Joseph Stern writes in Slate, because Georgia is a death-penalty state, absent any added limitations, the law “would subject women who get illegal abortions to life imprisonment and the death penalty.”

None of these laws have been enacted yet. The North Dakota, Arkansas, Iowa and Kentucky bills have so far been blocked in court, with the Mississippi ban also facing legal challenges. Georgia and Ohio, as Anna North writes in Vox, are also likely to face lawsuits. That doesn’t mean that women can rest easy.

As Emily Wax-Thibodeaux and Ariana Eunjung Cha write in The Washington Post, Kemp is one of a wave of conservative lawmakers “using new highly restrictive abortion laws to get abortion back in front of what they believe is the most friendly U.S. Supreme Court in decades.” Their goal is to challenge Roe v. Wade.

Tom McClusky, president of March for Life Action, a group that opposes abortion, told The Washington Post that these bills “lay the groundwork for pushing the envelope of life even farther,” adding, “what we’d like to do is change the culture so that no family facing this situation would think of the option of abortion.” The movement, Wax-Thibodeaux and Cha write, is hoping that Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh will be receptive to the anti-abortion cause.

Supporters of the Iowa bill were upfront about their aim to challenge Roe v. Wade. In 2018, Iowa State Rep. Shannon Lundgren told the Des Moines Register: “The science and technology have significantly advanced since 1973. … It is time for the Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue of life.”

Alabama also has a near-total abortion ban in the works. Last week, that state’s House of Representatives passed HB 344, the Human Life Protection Act, by a vote of 74-3. The bill would make abortion a Class A felony, meaning Alabama doctors who perform abortions could face up to 99 years in prison. The law passed the House without an exemption for cases of rape, although 28 representatives refused to vote. Thursday morning, the Senate also rejected the exemption, but delayed the vote on the bill until next week, according to The New York Times.

Pro-choice activists are already gearing up for legal challenges in Georgia. In a statement after Gov. Kemp signed the bill, Elisabeth Smith, chief counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, called the law “bafflingly unconstitutional.” She added, “Bans like this have always been blocked by courts. We will be suing Georgia to make sure this law has the same fate.”

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