Abortion War in Georgia
On January 1, 2020, Georgia’s Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, which is often called the “heartbeat” bill, will take effect. The law bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be six weeks into a pregnancy. The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that roughly 60 percent of all abortions in Georgia happened at or before eight weeks of gestation. One possible compromise might be to limit abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy.
Georgia’s policies are a reflection of its values, and nearly 80 percent of its adult residents identify as Christians. For many of them, perhaps abortion diminishes something miraculous into something inconvenient. The CDC reports that ages 20–24 are when the highest percentage of women seek abortions in Georgia. These are ages that many people engage in sexual risk behaviors. The idea that a young adult might have causal sex and then seek an abortion to avoid a lifelong obligation is not farfetched. The possibility of a pregnancy is a sobering reminder that sex is a serious act. The option of abortion may make it easier to take sex and pregnancy less seriously. If so, maybe a little bit of our reverence for the potential of human life disappears.
On the other hand, the majority of women support legal abortion in all or most cases. I can only imagine the frustration many of them may feel while watching Governor Brian Kemp sign legislation that further restricts it. Mr. Kemp will never have to experience the consequences of his decision. He will never have to give his body up as a vessel unwillingly. Conception involves two people, and yet women must fully deal with the aftereffects of it by themselves. Beyond pregnancy, there is motherhood, and many women face that alone, too. What often stands between a woman and all of the pitfalls that await single mothers is a man’s commitment to fatherhood, which is not guaranteed.
The views on both sides of the abortion debate have not changed much over the last 20 years. Perhaps more people should consider how abortion may alter how the public values the potential of human life. Perhaps more focus should be given to the factors that motivate women to seek abortions while recognizing that pregnant women alone are taking risks with their bodies and livelihoods. Regardless of their position on the issue, the gatekeepers of humanity’s future deserve to be treated with humility. Over the last 20 years, the abortion debate has been filled with outrage, picket signs, harassment, and shame. Unless something changes, the next 20 years will be no different.
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