The media have been working overtime to frame Georgia’s new pro-life legislation, known commonly as the “heartbeat bill,” as harmful to women, instead of what it actually is: protection for unborn children with beating hearts.
The law, signed by Governor Brian Kemp (R-GA) last week, bans abortion after a heartbeat is detected, which happens around six weeks gestation. It does not punish mothers.
But that hasn’t stopped the media’s distortion of the law. For example, here are some of the patently false headlines about the pro-life legislation, as highlighted by David French at National Review:
Business Insider: “Women could get up to 30 years in prison for having a miscarriage under Georgia’s harsh new abortion law.”
Slate: “Georgia just criminalized abortion. Women who terminate their pregnancies would receive life in prison.”
The Week: “Georgia’s ‘heartbeat’ abortion bill could imprison women for life.”
Glamour: “Women who have an abortion in Georgia could be sentenced to life in prison.”
As noted by Rich Lowry at The New York Post (emphasis added): “The relevant section of Georgia’s abortion law makes it clear that it applies to third parties, and has been interpreted as such by the Georgia courts. Nor does it call for life imprisonment of anyone.”
In other words, an abortionist providing an illegal abortion, or a man beating a woman and killing her baby, would be in deep legal trouble for murder; not the woman so-called “self-terminating.”
French provides more in-depth coverage of the legalese surrounding the law's implications. “The heartbeat bill did not repeal a number of Georgia criminal statutes that explicitly apply to abortions and unborn children, and it does not overrule controlling legal authority holding that these statutes bar prosecution of a woman for terminating her own pregnancy,” the conservative columnist explained. He also went through explicit statutes:
First, there is a specific code section that applies to unlawful abortions. Georgia Code Section 16-12-140 states:
(a) A person commits the offense of criminal abortion when, in violation of Code Section 16-12-141 , he or she administers any medicine, drugs, or other substance whatever to any woman or when he or she uses any instrument or other means whatever upon any woman with intent to produce a miscarriage or abortion.
(b) A person convicted of the offense of criminal abortion shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years.
“If a person performs an abortion in violation of the heartbeat bill, then Code Section 16-12-140 applies,” explained French, noting that the law “does not impose life imprisonment on anybody, and Georgia courts have held that it does not apply to a woman who self-terminates, only to third parties who perform an abortion.”
For example, the Court of Appeals of Georgia refused to prosecute a woman who shot herself in the stomach to kill her unborn baby, interpreting Section 16-12-140 thus: “This statute is written in the third person, clearly indicating that at least two actors must be involved.”
“Second,” said French, “the Georgia code section that criminalizes ‘feticide’ (such as when a man attacks a woman for the purpose of killing her unborn baby) specifically states that ‘nothing in this Code section shall be construed to permit the prosecution of … any woman with respect to her unborn child.’”
Planned Parenthood even admitted to The Washington Post that the new pro-life legislation could not successfully prosecute women who self-terminate.
Additionally, celebrities have claimed that women and girls who are raped would be forced to give birth. This is also a lie. The law offers exemptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother, as noted by Fox News.