Georgia Enacts 24-Hour Waiting Period, Tightens Parental Notification Laws

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue signed into law a bill on Tuesday that imposes 24-hour waiting periods on women seeking abortions in the state, and tightens the application of its parental notification laws. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, doctors must discuss the estimated age of a fetus, fetal pain, the risks of abortion, and alternatives with a woman, after which her 24-hour waiting period begins. The parental notification part of the measure requires that the parent or legal guardian be told if a minor seeks an abortion in Georgia, according to the Journal-Constitution. Georgia law previously allowed grandparents or other relatives to stand in for parents, according to the Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report.

Reproductive rights advocates see this legislation as both unnecessary and restrictive. Kay Scott, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Georgia, told the Journal-Constitution that restrictions on abortion are increasing “largely because these elected officials do not trust women to make these personal, private decisions themselves.” Furthermore, the Journal-Constitution notes that opponents to the law consider it unnecessary as doctors already provide women with information about medical risks and procedures. The Florida Times-Union reports that Becky Rafter, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Georgia, criticized the legislation for failing to provide exceptions for rape or incest victims, and for further restricting access for low-income or rural women, saying “It’s a bill that wants to put as many obstacles as possible for some one to access something that is their legal right.”

The Florida Times-Union reports that a requirement that women be told of a link between abortion and breast cancer was removed from the legislation. The so-called link between breast cancer and abortion propagated by the anti-abortion movement has been thoroughly discounted by the medical community.

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Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 5/11/05; Atlanta Journal-Constitution 5/11/05; Florida Times-Union 5/11/05

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