Georgia law provides significant legal protections for women and the unborn including a ban on abortions at or after 5-months of pregnancy, a requirement for parental involvement for a minor considering abortion, and an ultrasound requirement. However, it does not require that abortion clinics meet the same patient care standards as other facilities performing other invasive, outpatient surgeries.
- Georgia prohibits abortion at or after 5-months (i.e., 20 weeks) gestation based upon the pain felt by the unborn child, but the law is in litigation. Further, if an abortion is performed at or after 5 months of pregnancy, the abortion provider must report the medical diagnosis that necessitated the procedure.
- Georgia prohibits partial-birth abortions performed after viability.
- Georgia requires that, 24 hours prior to an abortion, a woman receive information on the medical risks of abortion and pregnancy and the gestational age of the unborn child. A woman must also receive information on medical assistance benefits, child support, and the right to review state-prepared material on a state-sponsored website.
- In addition, a woman must be orally informed that information on fetal pain is available on the state-sponsored website.
- A woman must also be offered the opportunity to view any ultrasound performed as part of the preparation for an abortion. State-developed materials must include information on organizations that provide ultrasounds.
- A physician may not perform an abortion on an unemancipated minor under the age of 18 until at least 24 hours after notice has been given in person or over the telephone to one parent, unless notice is waived in person by the parent and the parent presents photo identification, there is a medical emergency, or the minor obtains a court order.
- Georgia imposes cursory administrative requirements on abortion clinics operating in the state. Further, second- and third-trimester abortions must be performed in hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers.
- Only physicians licensed to practice medicine and surgery in the State of Georgia may perform abortions.
- Georgia follows the federal standard for Medicaid funding for abortions, permitting the use of federal or state matching Medicaid funds for abortions necessary to preserve the life of the woman or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
- The state has an enforceable abortion reporting law, but does not require the reporting of information to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The measure pertains to both surgical and nonsurgical abortions.
- Georgia includes “reproductive healthcare facilities” in the definition of mandatory reporters for suspected child abuse.
- No facility operated on public school property or operated by a public school district and no employee of any such facility acting within the scope of such employee’s employment may provide abortions, abortion referrals, or abortion-inducing drugs.
- Georgia includes mifepristone (i.e., RU-486) in its definition of “dangerous drugs” which may be dispensed only upon prescription by a “registered practitioner.” However, “practitioner” is defined broadly to include physicians, advance practice nurses, physician assistants, and even veterinarians.
- Georgia offers “Choose Life” license plates, the proceeds of which benefit pregnancy care centers and/or other organizations providing abortion alternatives.
Legal Recognition and Protection of Unborn and Newly Born:
- Under Georgia criminal law, the killing of an unborn child at any stage of gestation is deﬁned as a form of homicide.
- Georgia also maintains the crime of “feticide-by-vehicle,” making the unborn child at any stage of development a victim under the state’s homicide-by-vehicle law.
- Georgia deﬁnes a nonfatal assault on an unborn child as criminal offenses.
- Georgia allows parents and other relatives to bring wrongful death (civil) lawsuits when an unborn child is killed (after “quickening”) through the negligence or criminal act of another.
- The state has created a speciﬁc afﬁrmative duty of physicians to provide medical care and treatment to born-alive infants at any stage of development.
- Georgia maintains no laws regulating human cloning, destructive embryo research, fetal experimentation, human egg harvesting, or assisted reproductive technologies.
- Georgia maintains the “Newborn Umbilical Cord Blood Bank” for postnatal tissue and fluid, making the tissue available for medical research and treatment. All physicians and hospitals must inform pregnant patients of the full range of options for donation of postnatal tissue and fluids.
- Georgia law provides a procedure for embryo adoption.
End of Life Laws:
- Under Georgia law, assisting in another person’s suicide is a felony.
- The state maintains a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Paradigm Program.
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
Participation in Abortion and Contraception:
- A person who objects in writing to participating in abortions and whose objections are based on moral or religious grounds may not be required to participate in any medical procedure that results in an abortion.
- A hospital, medical facility, or physician is not required to admit a woman for the purpose of performing an abortion.
- The state provides some protection for the civil rights of pharmacists and pharmacies.
- Health insurance plans that provide prescription coverage must also provide coverage for contraception. There is no conscience exception for religious employers.
Participation in Research Harmful to Human Life:
- Georgia currently provides no protection for the rights of healthcare providers who conscientiously object to participation in human cloning, destructive embryo research, or other forms of medical research, which violate a provider’s moral or religious belief.
What Happened in 2013:
- The Georgia House commemorated Roe v. Wade by naming the week of January 22, 2013 as “Reproductive Rights Awareness Week.” It also adopted a resolution commending the National Strategic Action Convening for State Legislators on Reproductive Rights and Justice Center for Women Policy Studies for adopting a policy resolution on “reproductive rights.”
- Georgia enacted a bill to make technical changes to the state’s existing Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) law, and enacted regulations of pain management physicians and clinics.
- Georgia considered legislation amending its current 5-month abortion prohibition, which is in litigation, to a post-second trimester ban. It also considered legislation related to parental involvement, abortion funding, insurance coverage of abortion, and “Choose Life” license plates.
- The state considered legislation prohibiting human cloning for all purposes and the creation of chimeras (human-animal hybrids), as well as a measure creating a study committee on human embryonic research and the methods by which such research can be performed while recognizing and protecting human life.
Recommendations for Georgia:
Women’s Protection Project Priorities:
- Abortion Patients’ Enhanced Safety Act
- Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act
- Parental Consent for Abortion Act
- Parental Involvement Enhancements
- Components of the Child Protection Act related to evidence retention and remedies for third-party interference with parental rights
- Abortion Mandate Opt-Out Act
- Coercive Abuse Against Mothers Prevention Act
- Defunding the Abortion Industry and Advancing Women’s Health Act
- Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act
- Joint Resolution Commending Pregnancy Resource Centers
Legal Recognition and Protection for the Unborn:
- Unborn Wrongful Death Act (providing protection from conception)
- Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act
- Human Cloning Prohibition Act
- Destructive Embryo Research Act
- Prohibition on Public Funding of Human Cloning and Destructive Embryo Research Act
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
- Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act