Shefali Luthra, Kaiser Health News
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into regulation Tuesday the state’s newest abortion restriction. Political response to the measure, which prohibits the process as soon as a physician can detect a fetal heartbeat — normally at in regards to the six-week mark — was swift.
Abortion opponents applauded the measure, which places Georgia in the company of Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota and Iowa. (Courts have blocked the Iowa and North Dakota legal guidelines.) Reproductive rights activists are broadly anticipated to problem the Georgia regulation, which many authorized consultants say violates the abortion customary set by the Supreme Court in its landmark Roe v. Wade resolution.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, was among the many critics who weighed in.
“The so-called ‘heartbeat’ law outlaws abortion before most women even know that they’re pregnant,” Swalwell posted on Twitter. “This is one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in our country.”
Swalwell’s declare is an argument we’ve heard typically in regards to the six-week abortion ban. We emailed his press staff, who redirected us to an article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, describing the regulation’s passage. But we needed to dig deeper.
Swalwell’s declare has two elements: First, he mentioned the regulation bans abortion “before most women even know that they’re pregnant.”
This is a difficult one. We contacted 4 reproductive-law consultants, together with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. We additionally checked out data from the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive well being analysis and coverage group that helps abortion rights however whose analysis is broadly cited.
None of these sources may level us to information exhibiting when “most women” know they’re pregnant.
Maggie McEvoy, an ACOG spokeswoman, mentioned the group doesn’t monitor that data, and it isn’t clear anybody does.
And about Swalwell’s assertion:
“Is it empirically true? I don’t know that the medical literature supports that,” mentioned Katherine Kraschel, who runs the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy at Yale Law School.
But even with out that information, consultants mentioned, it’s abundantly clear that ladies who should not making an attempt to conceive are a lot much less probably to concentrate on a being pregnant till properly after six weeks.
That’s as a result of “six weeks” actually means “six weeks after a woman’s last menstrual cycle.” Typically, a cycle is about 28 days, or 4 weeks, lengthy. But many ladies are accustomed to having irregular durations, and delays will be exacerbated by on a regular basis components reminiscent of stress and fatigue, which may stretch a cycle to 30 or 40 days. At this level, although a lady could not but bear in mind that she is pregnant or be experiencing any signs, a doctor could possibly discern a fetal heartbeat.
Most ladies don’t understand they’re pregnant till lacking no less than one interval, mentioned Dr. Kristyn Brandi, an OB-GYN at Rutgers Medical School. Often, it takes two.
Generally, medical consultants say, ladies who’re actively making an attempt to conceive have a tendency to trace their cycles very intently and know a lot sooner if they’re pregnant. But for girls whose pregnancies are unintended, and who could also be extra more likely to ponder an abortion, Swalwell’s assertion is extra correct.
About two-thirds of ladies searching for abortions normally are available around eight weeks since their final menstrual interval, per the newest Guttmacher statistics.
In different phrases, the six-week restriction would reduce off entry to abortion at a degree within the being pregnant when “there’s a high level of women who might not know,” Kraschel mentioned.
‘One Of The Most Restrictive’
The second half of Swalwell’s declare is simpler to confirm.
He mentioned that is “one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws” within the nation, a characterization consultants say is definitely correct. The phrase “one of” is an important distinction. The Georgia ban isn’t any extra stringent than these accredited within the 5 different states which have handed heartbeat legal guidelines.
In Alabama, lawmakers are contemplating a invoice that will successfully criminalize all abortions — treating physicians who carry out the procedures as felons. If it have been to change into regulation, Alabama’s could be probably the most stringent within the nation. But voting within the state Senate on that legislation was postponed after a debate erupted over whether or not to incorporate an exemption for rape or incest.
Legal consultants additionally suspect that, as conservatives pursue new abortion laws, heartbeat restrictions are among the many likeliest to finish up in entrance of the Supreme Court. Conservatives consider the judicial make-up favors a ruling that would overturn or reduce the abortion protections outlined in Roe v. Wade.
Swalwell runs into information obstacles with the primary half of his declare. He says a six-week ban prohibits abortion earlier than “most women” know that they’re pregnant, however there isn’t any analysis that conclusively says that’s right.
Some clarification would assist him right here.
Most ladies who aren’t making an attempt to conceive are much less more likely to know this early that they’re pregnant. They most likely aren’t taking being pregnant checks or intently monitoring their durations. And ladies searching for abortions are typically coming in after six weeks.
To be truthful to Swalwell, his broader level right here is true: The ladies extra more likely to search abortions are, six weeks from their final interval, much less more likely to understand they’re pregnant.
The second half of this declare is unequivocally right. Georgia’s regulation is certainly among the many nation’s strictest.
This declare is right however may use extra context and clarification. We price it Mostly True.
Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nationwide well being coverage information service. It is an editorially unbiased program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which isn’t affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.