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Georgia Passes "Heartbeat" Abortion Law

March 30 (UPI) -- The Georgia General Assembly has passed a bill to prevent abortions from being carried out if a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The Georgia House of Representatives voted to pass House Bill 481, the Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act, on Friday by a 92-78 margin. The legislation cleared the Georgia Senate last week in a 34-18 vote. 

House Bill 481 would bar abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, possibly as early as six weeks into gestation, according to the legislation.

The bill allows some exceptions, such as in cases of rape or incest prior to 20 weeks' gestation, and in pregnancies that physicians have declared "medically futile."

To become law, the bill still needs Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's approval. After the state's senate passed the bill March 22, Kemp released a statement praising the legislation.

"I applaud the members who supported the heartbeat bill's passage for protecting the vulnerable and giving a voice to those who cannot yet speak for themselves," Kemp said in a statement.

If signed into law, the bill would become one of the most restrictive state abortion laws in the United States. In January, an Iowa court struck down that's state's so-called "heartbeat bill," passed in 2018, saying it conflicted with the state constitution. Mississippi's governor signed a similar billinto law earlier this month in his state.

NARAL Pro-Choice America, a pro-abortion rights advocacy organization, said in a news release Friday that the Georgia legislation is "wildly out of step" with popular opinion in the state.

"This is an all-out assault on the reproductive health and safety of Georgia women," NARAL Pro-Choice Georgia State Director Laura Simmons said in a statement. "This cruel, unconstitutional bill is part of an extreme GOP agenda to strip freedoms from women and could not be further from the values that most Georgians hold."

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