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Georgia State Senator Speaks Out Against Abortion Bill

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Georgia lawmakers narrowly passed a bill that would make abortion illegal as soon as a heartbeat is detected; Governor Brian Kemp is expected to sign it. The opponents include Democratic State Senator Jennifer Jordan.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JENNIFER JORDAN: I've been pregnant 10 times. I have seen what many of you in here have called a heartbeat 10 times. But I've only given birth twice. But no matter my faith, my beliefs, my losses, I have never, ever strayed from the basic principle that each woman, each woman, must be able to make her decisions in consultation with her God and her family.

INSKEEP: Senator Jordan joins us now on the line. Good morning. Welcome to the program.

JORDAN: Good morning.

INSKEEP: I want to get right to it by noting the billboards that I have seen, that many people have seen all over the country - including, I think, on Georgia highways - billboards that say, abortion stops a beating heart. How do you answer people for whom that is the governing idea?

JORDAN: You know, it's difficult, and it was one of the reasons why this debate is so difficult. Because if you have people who don't believe kind of in the same set of facts, it's really hard to debate it, and that's why it was kind of important, with respect to my own experience, to try to say it's not true. I mean...

INSKEEP: When you say your own experience, what was your experience, Senator?

JORDAN: Well, I've had multiple miscarriages after having seen fetal cardiac activity on ultrasound. And so - and that's basically what the bill does here, is that when a woman or when a fetus is capable of fetal cardiac activity being detected - which is about 5.5 to 6 weeks pregnant - that, at that point in time, that fetus is considered, for all purposes under Georgia law, a full, you know, citizen of the state of Georgia. And...

INSKEEP: Does that mean that, as you understand it, there could be criminal consequences of some kind, should there be not even an abortion but a miscarriage of the kind that you experienced?

JORDAN: Yeah, absolutely. I mean - and there is some case law in the state that has talked about the criminalization of abortions, with respect to women, and how every miscarriage could be investigated. I mean, it could be just you're not taking care of yourself properly, so somehow, you're criminally negligent. Maybe you are drinking, maybe you're smoking, and then you have a miscarriage, and then you're subject to prosecution in the state.

INSKEEP: Did Republicans respond to that argument at all? Did they agree, yeah, that's what we want to do with this bill?

JORDAN: You know, it's one of those things when nobody ever responded to that. I did a pretty significant analysis, going back in terms of the law and the statutory language, and it's clear that the intent of this law is to criminalize women, which goes much further than any law in the country. I mean, the whole idea that as soon as a woman is able to detect that she's pregnant - which is at about 5.5 weeks in terms of a pregnancy test - that, at that point in time, her body doesn't belong to her anymore and belongs to the state of Georgia; I mean, that is clearly exactly what they intended here. I mean, they even put an affirmative defense from prosecution in for women.

When you see that, there can be no doubt that this was directed toward, you know, subjecting women to prosecution if and when they did anything that may result in a loss of pregnancy.

INSKEEP: Senator, do you view this as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, of course, which protects, generally, abortions in the first two trimesters?

JORDAN: Yeah. I mean, the author is the sponsor; even the governor has indicated that this is exactly what it is. I mean, it is intended to be outrageous. It's intended to be stopped in the courts and then to go up to the Supreme Court because that's exactly what they want to do; they want to overturn Roe. But the problem is, is that the implications go far beyond abortion. This affects every decision that women make in their lives and basically relegates us, in Georgia, at least the women, to second - basically, kind of not fully-adult humans responsible for our own choices - second-class citizens.

INSKEEP: Senator, thank you so much.

JORDAN: Thank you.

INSKEEP: That's State Senator Jennifer Jordan in Georgia. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.