Georgia House committee reportedly approves pro-life ‘heartbeat’ legislation, bill sent for full vote

An anti-abortion “heartbeat” bill was reportedly approved by a Georgia House committee by a close margin on Wednesday, inching it closer to a vote before the full chamber.

The debated piece of legislation was approved by the House Health and Human Services Committee,17-14, according to The Associated Press. All those in favor of the measure were Republicans, while all those opposed were Democrats.

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The full House was expected to cast their votes on the bill Thursday night, according to The Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

The bill, if fully passed, would prohibit abortions once a fetal heartbeat is identified, The Associated Press reported. This runs in contrast to what is currently legal in the state, which allows for abortions for women up to 20 weeks pregnant. A heartbeat is generally detectable by medical professionals at around 6 weeks.

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"We know life begins at conception. I think that's worthy of full legal protection," Rep. Ed Setzler, who sponsored the bill, said. "Certainly we can come together and recognize if there's a human heartbeat, that child's worthy of protection."

Gov. Brian Kemp advocated for the bill, telling the Constitution that signing a tough abortion bill was among his campaign promises “and this is the toughest one we’ve got in the Legislature now.”

The legislation does recognize some exceptions, including if the pregnancy puts the mother’s life at risk, or in instances of rape and incest, The Associated Press said. In the latter cases, however, the woman would reportedly need to file a police report.

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Committee Chairman Rep. Sharon Cooper brought forth an amendment, which passed, that also makes an exception in the event of a "medically futile" pregnancy -- cases in which a fetus is deemed not compatible with life, the outlet said.

Those advocating against the bill reportedly argued that it would put women’s health at risk, lead to unsafe self-induced abortions and contribute to that state’s obstetrician shortage.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.