Georgia Senate passes ‘fetal heartbeat’ bill
The Georgia Senate passed a bill (H.B. 481) by Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Marietta) that would outlaw abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected unless the pregnancy is the result of rape (with a police report) or incest, the abortion is necessary to avert death or serious bodily harm to the mother, it is necessary to preserve the life of an unborn child, or the pregnancy is deemed medically futile. This measure would also allow a woman who seeks an abortion to potentially sue the physician who performs the abortion. The House must now agree to the changes that were made by the Senate.
MAG is actively opposing this legislation because it would result in the criminal prosecution of physicians who perform medical procedures that are within their scope of practice, it would create a new avenue for lawsuits against physicians, and it could undermine efforts to recruit and retain OB-GYN in Georgia.
“It is essential to remember that MAG is not weighing in on abortion from a public policy perspective – as that’s an individual decision,” explains MAG President Rutledge Forney, M.D. “MAG is simply promoting policies that were established by its House of Delegates.”
Having consulted with MAG’s Executive Committee and a MAG task force, Dr. Forney recently sent a letter to Georgia Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) to oppose H.B. 481 because it is inconsistent with MAG policy.
MAG policy 525.996 states that…
“To preserve quality health care for women, MAG shall: 1) oppose any legislation that violates the doctor/patient relationship and 2) oppose legislation that threatens criminal prosecution against physicians who diagnosis, prescribe and perform medical treatment within their scope of practice and 3) support women and couples who seek and receive fertility treatment and their decisions concerning embryos created as part of that treatment and 4) support policies and legislation that allow women and families to maintain access to quality health care in Georgia.”
MAG policy 5.999 states that…
“Abortions should be performed by a properly qualified Doctor of Medicine. The procedure should take place in a hospital or clinic that has personnel and facilities which will provide adequate protection against infection, and proper equipment to combat blood loss, shock or respiratory distress. Physicians must have the right to refuse to perform abortions for any reason.”
And MAG policy 120.986 states that…
“MAG supports legislation that requires pharmacists to fill legally valid prescriptions; however, in the case of a pharmacist who has issued a written objection to dispensing abortion drugs, such pharmacist shall provide immediate referral to an appropriate alternative dispensing pharmacy, and immediately return the prescription to the prescription holder, without interference.”
Dr. Forney stresses that, “While this is a divisive issue, we are adhering to the policies that were adopted by MAG’s House of Delegates. This isn’t an issue we sought out, and we did not receive any prior notice that this bill was going to be introduced until it actually was.”
MAG also doesn’t believe that the bill would survive judicial scrutiny.