One of the biggest dividers in the contentious Georgia 20-week abortion ban was the lack of exception for the case of fetuses with such severe anomalies that they would be unable to live outside the womb once born, or would only survive in constant pain. It was this lack of exception that caused doctors to testify to the harm the bill would do, and which angered the bill’s sponsor to the point where he began calling medical experts “liars.”
Now, the bill has passed the senate, but with one change — they have added an exception for fetuses with anomalies. And, since that one small, humane change would likely apply to the majority of terminations after 20 weeks, it’s no longer clear if the House will support the bill.
In a major shift, the Senate adopted a last-minute change that would allow women to get an abortion even after the five-month mark if a doctor determined a fetus has a fatal congenital or chromosomal defect. Critics of the bill have said that many abortions performed so late in a pregnancy are sought by parents who learn their unborn child will not survive outside the womb.
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“I think we need to give doctors and their patients that opportunity,” said Republican Sen. John Bulloch, who supported changing the bill and ultimately voted for its passage. He said lawmakers should “not punish a pregnant woman.”
If the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Doug McKillip, and his fellow house Republicans do not accept the change to the law by Thursday, the last day of legislature, the bill will not become law.