Senate committee hears testimony on 'heartbeat bill'

Image 1 of 12

So many people showed up for a hearing on the controversial "heartbeat bill" that many were turned away and had to watch on monitors scattered around the state Capitol Thursday afternoon.

House Bill 481 would ban most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is around six weeks’ gestation. The bill does contain some exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and medical emergency. 

"We recognize legally and scientifically a person's alive if they have a beating heart," said State Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, the bill's primary sponsor. "Why would we treat it differently in the womb?" 

The Senate Science and Technology Committee met for more than three hours in order to hear from people who fall on both sides of the issue. 

"We don't want to go backward and so that's why we're out here fighting," said Tamara Stevens of Roswell. “We never thought in 2019 we would have to be fighting for this, but here we are."

Opponents are concerned that the bill will not stop abortions in Georgia, just force women to seek unsafe, illegal procedures.

The measure already passed in the House of Representatives, but needs Senate approval before it can become law.  Governor Brian Kemp has already pledged to sign the legislation if it makes it to his desk.