Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp defied threats of a Hollywood boycott and pressure from pro-choice groups to sign a bill Tuesday banning abortion after a heartbeat is detected.
The Writers Guild of America had said Kemp’s signing the law would force talent “in our industry” to “leave the state or decide not to bring productions there.” Actress Alyssa Milano had released a letter of 50 actors threatening a boycott if Kemp signed it. Georgia has a thriving film and television industry.
But Kemp, during a ceremony with supporters, said the law is needed because “Georgia is a state that values life.” The bill, HB 481, is known as the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act.
“We protect the innocent, we champion, the vulnerable. We stand up and speak for those unable to speak for themselves,” Kemp said. “... I realize that some may challenge it in the court of law, but our job is to do what is right – not what is easy. Through the Life Act, we will allow precious babies to grow up and realize their full God-given potential.”
The new law states that “no abortion is authorized or shall be performed if an unborn child has been determined … to have a detectable human heartbeat.” It makes exceptions for rape, incest, medical emergencies and if a doctor determines a “pregnancy is medically futile.” A heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks’ gestation, according to the bill’s text.
Standing behind Kemp were state senators and representatives who supported the bill.
Sen. Renee Unterman, a Republican, was the bill’s Senate sponsor. She is a former nurse and social worker – two careers she said also involved “saving lives.” She called the bill the “culmination” of her “political career.”
“I've spent that whole time as a legislator waiting to get to today,” she said. “... I believe in life … and that's what's given me the courage to persevere.”
Catherine Davis, founder and president of the Restoration Project, said Kemp had the courage to do what other governors did not do.
“This governor,” Davis said, “is standing [and] restoring … protection for a class of people who had the protection stripped from them in Roe v. Wade – just like Plessy v. Ferguson stripped away protection from a class of people, just like [the] Dred Scott decision stripped away protection from a class of people – so did Roe v. Wade, and [it] began to define a class of people as objects to be gotten rid of.”
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Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Kevin C. Cox/Staff