Georgia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (HB 954)
This law was last updated on Jan 29, 2018
20-Week Abortion Ban
This bill prohibits abortion at “probable gestational age” of 20 weeks or more unless the pregnancy is diagnosed as medically futile or if three physicians certify that in their reasonable medical judgment, the abortion is necessary to “avert the death of the pregnant woman or avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman” or to “preserve the life of the unborn child.”
The law states that “no such condition shall be deemed to exist if it is based on a diagnosis or claim of a mental or emotional condition of the pregnant woman or that the pregnant woman will purposefully engage in conduct which she intends to result in her death or in substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.”
Abortions performed after 20 weeks must be performed in a manner that provides the best opportunity for the “unborn child” to survive.
The purpose of the 20-week ban is to assert Georgia’s compelling interest in “protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain.” No specific legislative findings on junk science are included in the bill text.
A violation of the provision constitutes the offense of “criminal abortion” and is punishable by up to ten years in prison.
Physician Reporting Requirements
Abortion providers are required to report to the state department of health: (1) if the determination of probable gestational age was made, what was determined, and how it was determined; (2) if a determination of probable gestational age was not made, why not—what was the basis for the medical emergency or what was the basis for a determination that the pregnancy was diagnosed as medically futile; (3) if the probable gestational age was 20-weeks or more and an abortion was performed, whether the method performed provided the best opportunity for the “unborn child” to survive, and if not, why not.
Requires the state health department to issue a public report providing statistics compiled from all the reports provided by physicians.
In March 2013, a Georgia state judge blocked enforcement of the law pending litigation. (See Lathrop v. Deal.)
On June 19, 2017, the Georgia Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit challenging HB 954.