ATLANTA -- Two weeks after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a restrictive anti-abortion bill, a few hundred people gathered outside the state Capitol vowing to continue the fight to stop the pending law from taking effect.
Part of a national day of action, abortion rights groups including Planned Parenthood Southeast, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia and Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equality said Tuesday that they would fight back against anti-abortion efforts in the state and across the country.
"The fact that we stand united and powerful is so important for the long road ahead," said Kwajelyn Jackson, the executive director of the Feminist Women's Health Center. "We are not alone in this. All of you are necessary for where we have to go to gain our liberation."
Kemp on May 7 signed House Bill 481, which makes most abortions illegal once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity -- usually around six weeks of pregnancy and before many women know they are pregnant.
It is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1. The ACLU and Planned Parenthood have said they will challenge the law in court.
Later abortions still will be allowed in instances of rape, incest, when the life of the mother is at risk and when a doctor determines the fetus would not survive. Victims of rape and incest must file a police report before an abortion can be performed.
The rally was organized as part of a national movement to "stop the bans" as laws similar to HB 481 have been approved in several states across the country. The flagship event took place in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, and nearly 200 other registered events were held in states ranging from Florida to Washington.
It also came a day after several women announced their intent to run against Republican incumbents who voted for the bill. Democrats and abortion rights advocates have vowed to turn their frustration at HB 481 into political action through recruiting like-minded candidates and encouraging Georgians to support them at the polls next year.
Georgia's law is one of several moving through Republican-run state governments across the country with the express purpose of challenging the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 that guaranteed a woman's right to an abortion until a fetus is "viable" -- up until about 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Georgia passed legislation in 2012 that banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. And activists spent much of the rally reminding Georgians that abortion up to 20 weeks is still available in Georgia.
Planned Parenthood Southeast CEO and President Staci Fox said facilities in Georgia have received calls from pregnant women who were concerned they no longer have access to abortion.
"Abortion is still safe and legal," Fox said. "We have a saying at Planned Parenthood: These doors stay open."
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