House Bill 954 (HB 954) seeks to restrict abortions regardless of a woman’s medical circumstances. Most women with high-risk pregnancies, who know that their own health or their fetuses are at risk, must have every medical option — including ending the pregnancy —to consider in consultation with medical professionals, religious advisers, family members, and other people they trust. And certainly, women and their families should not be forced to adhere to legislative directives that are based on unsound medical science or unapproved clinical practice.
Read Jay Bookman's blog about this bill: Georgia anti-abortion bill strikes at heart of personal liberty - http://blogs.ajc.com/jay-bookman-blog/2012/02/22/georgia-anti-abortion-bill-strikes-personal-liberty/?cxntfid=blogs_jay_bookman_blog
You Should Know:
~ Every woman’s pregnancy is different. HB 954 leaves no exception for serious fetal anomalies that would present during the middle weeks of a pregnancy. Most pregnant women undergo an anatomy scan ultrasound at approximately 20 weeks. Often, when a scan indicates a potential, serious complication, the physician may ask the woman to wait an additional week or so before returning for additional testing. Thus, HB 954 could force a woman to carry a fetus to term in cases where serious physical deformities, injuries or a fatal condition present during this critical time in a pregnancy or to terminate a pregnancy early in order to comply with the requirements of HB 954.
~ Later abortions are rare. Nationally, less than 1.4% of abortions occur past 20 weeks.
~ HB 954 eliminates the ability of physicians to consider a woman’s mental health or illness and the potential that she may commit suicide and/or self-inflict “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function” in deciding whether or not a termination is medically appropriate. Physicians should be able to use their judgment in such circumstances and the bill should include an exception that covers mental health.
~ HB 954 contains no exception for rape or incest.
~ HB 954 is unconstitutional because it fails to adequately protect women’s health. HB 954 allows abortions after 20 weeks gestation only when the physician determines that “in reasonable medical judgment that an 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.” The Supreme Court has repeatedly required an exception for circumstances when abortion “is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health” of the woman.
~ HB 954 does not require protection of the identity of the physicians, who performed or attempted to perform the abortions, in the public report to be published by the Dept. of Community Health. There are a number of cases of murder and violence against physicians who perform legal abortions in the U.S. This would place OB/GYN’s and Emergency Room Physicians in Georgia at serious personal risk when complying with the reporting requirements of HB 954. In addition, a fiscal note should be required to determine the cost and staff resources available in the Dept. of Community Health for data collection and reporting.
~ There is no “substantial medical evidence” that fetuses are capable of feeling pain as indicated in the findings of HB 954. The prevailing scientific understanding, endorsed by the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists and the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, is that the capacity for functional pain perception may begin around week 29-30—well into the third trimester. The word “may” is used as there is increasing evidence that the fetus remains in continuous sleep-like unconsciousness or sedation while in-utero, suggesting that amniotic fluid may act as analgesia throughout the pregnancy.
HB 954 also excludes measures to protect physicians’ identity in the public report published by the Dept. of Community Health. Passing this bill would strip physicians of their privacy and place them at risk for physical violence up to and including murder.
Most importantly, though, this bill hurts women’s health by criminalizing doctor’s abilities to provide medical care. I strongly oppose HB 954, and I am encouraging you to do the same.
When making medical decisions, a pregnant woman expects her physician to act in her best interest. I strongly urge you to support of women’s health and rights in Georgia by voting NO on HB 954.