The controversial “heartbeat bill” passed in the Georgia senate Friday evening by a vote of 34 to 18.

The “heartbeat bill,” which is numbered House Bill 481, would make abortion illegal once a doctor is able to detect a heartbeat in the womb. The bill considers the moment of fetal heartbeat detection to be the indicator of viable life and sets out that the unborn would be counted as a Georgia citizen and would be eligible for a state income tax deduction.

Georgia’s existing abortion laws ban abortion after 20 weeks. Fetal heartbeats are usually detected around six weeks.

Gov. Brian Kemp was quick to praise the passage of the bill, releasing a statement immediately after the vote was cast.

“Today, the State Senate affirmed Georgia’s commitment to life and the rights of the innocent unborn. I applaud the members who supported the heartbeat bill’s passage for protecting the vulnerable and giving a voice to those who cannot yet speak for themselves,” Kemp said. “I look forward to working with the House to ensure this legislation’s final passage in the coming days.”

NARAL Pro-Choice America condemned the passage of the bill calling it “a dangerous and unnecessary law that would criminalize abortion, punish women, and ban abortion before most women even know they are pregnant.”

NARAL’s Georgia State Director Laura Simmons accused republican lawmakers of neglecting the state’s health care crisis.

“Extreme legislators continue to neglect the growing health care crisis in Georgia, including the worst maternal mortality epidemic in the country, letting women across our state continue to die largely preventable deaths,” Simmons said.

The bill moves back to the House where the Senate’s amendments to the bill must be approved. The bill must pass by the last day of the legislative session, which is scheduled for April 2.

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