Community reacts to anti-abortion laws passing across the nation

By: Sophia Hernandez | WCTV Eyewitness News
May 15, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – Two major pieces of anti-abortion legislation have been passed within the past two weeks, and those in the capital city are expressing concerns over the controversial bills.

On Wednesday, Alabama's governor signed a bill called the "Human Life Protection Act," which is the most restrictive anti-abortion law since the Roe v. Wade ruling. The bill bans all abortions, including cases of rape and incest, and can have a doctor put in prison for up to 99 years for performing one.

Last week, Georgia's governor signed a similar piece of legislation, called the "Fetal Heartbeat Bill," which bans abortions after a heartbeat is detected. A heartbeat is usually heard five to six weeks into a pregnancy.

Experts, like Mary Ziegler, say that although the laws may seem to have extreme measures, it could still be a while before they are actually put into place.

Ziegler shares, "Lawmakers who think that this is going to happen soon and that the Supreme Court will not only undo Roe but also recognize a right to life in the near future, are overly optimistic."

Lauren Brenzel, the Statewide Director for Florida of Planned Parenthood, plainly states, "People are scared right now."

Brenzel calls bills like the ones recently passed in Georgia and Alabama as restricting access to safe and legal medical procedures.

"We are not seeing women being represented in this conversation, we are not seeing these stories being heard, again we are seeing something that is a rhetorical attack get insulted into real world consequences and that is unacceptable."

Brenzel expresses, "People are scared, they have actually had to set up additional call lines to field calls from women who have had abortions scheduled and are worried that they wont be able to access healthcare."

Ziegler mentions that while lawmakers passed the bills, the laws are not yet in effect and will be challenged in court.

Ziegler encourages women looking to get an abortion to not worry, "Women in general, at least at the moment under either law, won't be prosecuted themselves for having abortions. So, I don't think there should be that much fear that women will face legal consequences if they go to Florida to have abortions."

While women in Georgia and Alabama can still have abortions right now, once those laws take effect, women may try to come to Florida to receive the healthcare they need. Ziegler points out, if these women come to Florida seeking abortions, they might find that doctors may not be willing to help.

She shares, "The laws don't spell out how they would apply out of state. I think when you are talking about Florida, the only concern would be that it would have a chilling effect on doctors who might not want to go anywhere near potential criminal liability."

She furthers the discussion by explaining, as of now, the laws do not spell out what those repercussions would be, which is why doctors could be wary of conducting a surgical procedure on a woman whose state believes the procedure is a crime.

Many questions still surround these issues, and Ziegler believes we should expect it to become a long legal battle.

Pro-life groups in the area declined to comment as the bills are in Georgia and Alabama, not in Florida. The Georgia Conference of Catholics released a statement on their website that agrees with the state's bill.

Currently there are six states that have passed some sort of anti-abortion measure.

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