ATLANTA, GA (WTVM) - This week the Georgia Senate passed a controversial bill banning almost all abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
The bill, backed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, passed on a 34-18 party-line vote and now goes back to the House to approve Senate changes.
The bill would be one of the nation’s strictest anti-abortion measures if it becomes law
Women in Georgia can currently seek an abortion during the first 20 weeks of a pregnancy. A heartbeat can be detected in an embryo as early as six weeks, before many women know they're pregnant.
A large group of women at the Georgia Capitol protested the bill dressed as characters from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which depicts a dystopian future where women are controlled by the government and forced to breed.
A smaller contingent of anti-abortion advocates held signs and urged lawmakers to pass the bill.
Debate between the the groups took place amid heavy security. Over two dozen Georgia State Patrol cars flanked the Capitol building and as many troopers stood watch inside.
During public testimony last week, several physicians and physician groups came out against the bill, saying it contained medical inaccuracies and would worsen health care for women in Georgia, a state that already has one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the country.
If signed, the law would take effect January 1, 2020.