Under Georgia’s New Law, A Miscarriage Can Initiate A Criminal Investigation

Charlotte Cooper / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Georgian women who have a miscarriage can face an investigation into whether they underwent an abortion procedure.

A newly signed abortion law in Georgia and a proposed abortion ban in Alabama seeking to challenge Roe v Wade have given way to a slew of misconceptions, including that women violating those statues could face life in prison, according to a report by the Washington Post.

In Georgia, the law will ban abortions once the physician can detect a heartbeat--about 6 weeks into pregnancy--which is earlier than many women even realize they are pregnant, according to the Post.

The Alabama law, which has yet to go through the state’s Senate, goes a step further, prohibiting abortion from the moment the fetus is in the uterus. Notably, that proposal only excludes cases in which the mother’s health is in serious risk, not cases for rape or incest.

Earlier this week, a number of outlets, including Slate, published news suggesting women aborting in Georgia could face death or life in prison. That is incorrect. While the statue in Georgia does not contain a provision protecting women from liability, the state’s penal code has clauses that defend women who miscarry, according to the Post.

“The news headlines and social media headlines that speculate about the bills’ unintended consequences are – at the very least – not productive. At most, they’re harmful,” said Planned Parenthood’s Staci Fox.

But women who have miscarriages could face an investigation into whether someone performed an abortion illegaly.

“You don’t want a woman to be forced to prove how she lost her baby,” said Columbia Law School professor Carol Sanger.

In Alabama, criminal liability would fall of doctors, who could face up to 99 years in prison, according to state representative Terri Collins, who sponsored the bill.

Read the full story here.