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The Race to Limit Abortion Access

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The Race to Limit Abortion Access

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This year, with the future of Roe v. Wade newly in question after the appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, a rash of abortion-related bills have been making their way through statehouses. The vast majority are bills to restrict access to abortion, though a couple are efforts to shore up abortion rights.

This week, Georgia and Alabama have made moves to restrict access to the procedure. Alabama’s is one of the most aggressive ever in the U.S., aiming to criminalize abortion. The vote, initially expected to take place on Thursday, was delayed until next week after chaos erupted on the Senate floor.

Doctors measure the start of pregnancy from the date of a woman’s last menstrual period, which is usually about two weeks before a fetus is conceived.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, an embryo is not considered a fetus until eight weeks after fertilization, which is about 10 weeks into a pregnancy.

“Georgia is a state that values life,” Kemp said at the bill signing.

It’s the fourth state to pass such legislation this year, and like in other states, it is expected to face a swift legal challenge. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights have vowed to challenge Georgia’s legislation before it takes effect in January 2020.

[READ MORE: What Do New State Abortion Laws Really Mean for Women?]

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All three of these states have passed “heartbeat bills” this year, paving the way for Georgia.

The law was passed in Kentucky in March, but was blocked by a federal judge hours later. Kentucky has one abortion clinic.

Mississippi passed its own law just days after Kentucky, though a federal judge is expected to hear a challenge to the law later this month. During the signing ceremony, Mississippi’s governor, Phil Bryant, a Republican, described a heartbeat as “the universal hallmark of life since man’s very beginning.”

In April, Ohio passed its law, which is set to take effect in July. The A.C.L.U. plans to sue. At the bill’s signing in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine acknowledged its potential to be used as a tool in the fight against Roe v. Wade.

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