Although the 1972 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade protected abortion, states have legislated the procedure in many different ways, often imposing tough restrictions. In the state of Georgia, abortion laws require parental consent to have an abortion if the patient is under 18 years old (unless it's an emergency), parents must have 24-hour notice prior to a scheduled abortion, and partial birth abortions are prohibited, unless the procedure is medically necessary to save the life of the mother.
Georgia's "Fetal Heartbeat" Law
While the law in Georgia has allowed women to get an abortion up to 20 weeks into their pregnancy, the state's governor signed a bill in May 2019 that bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. A fetal heartbeat can be detected at around 6 weeks of pregnancy. Critics of this bill argue that most women don't even know that they're pregnant at 6 weeks.
Note: While this law contains an effective date of January 1, 2020, it will be subject to judicial review in state or federal courts. The courts can delay implementation of the law during the period of judicial review and can ultimately overturn the law if it's found to be unconstitutional.
Health Insurance and Abortion in Georgia
Health plans offered in the state's health exchange under the Affordable Care Act will only cover abortion when the woman's life is endangered or her health is severely compromised. Abortion is covered in insurance policies for public employees only in cases of life endangerment. Finally, public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
Georgia Abortion Laws at a Glance
While it's important to read the actual text of the law when you have a legal question, it's also helpful to read an overview of the law as well. The table below provides an overview of abortion laws in Georgia and links to applicable statutes.
Georgia Code, Title 16:
|Statutory Definition of Illegal Abortion
It's a criminal abortion to administer medicine/drugs/substance or use an instrument with intent to procure a miscarriage or abortion in a manner that isn't in compliance with Section 16-12-141.
A partial birth abortion is unlawful unless it's necessary to save the mother's life when that life is physically endangered and no other medical procedure will suffice to save her life.
|Statutory Definition of Legal Abortion
In order for an abortion to be legal, it must be performed as follows:
- During 1st trimester: must be performed by a licensed medical doctor.
- After 1st trimester: must be performed by a medical doctor and in a licensed hospital or health facility.
- After 2nd trimester: physician and 2 consulting physicians must certify it is necessary to preserve life or health of mother.
|Penalty for Unlawful Abortion
A criminal abortion is punishable by 1 to 10 years of imprisonment.
A partial birth abortion is punishable by up to 5 years of imprisonment and/or fines of up to $5000.
Additinally, physicians who do not follow the exact proceedures outlined in the Georgia Code can be considered as having conducted unprofessional medical conduct and can be subject to medical license sanctions.
Except in medical emergency, written, informed consent of parent or guardian of unemancipated minor under the age of 18.
Parent must have 24-hour notice before scheduled abortion, unless waived or unless minor obtains judicial approval that minor is either mature enough to decide without parents' consent or parents' consent is not in best interests of the minor.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Georgia Abortion Laws: Related Resources
Speak to an Attorney to Learn More About Georgia Abortion Laws
Abortion laws confusing you? Not sure about the difference between federal and state laws? What about your rights under the ACA? All of these questions and more can be answered by a Georgia family law attorney in your area. If you want to learn more, considering meeting with an experienced attorney today.