A couple of years ago, the members of the Georgia General Assembly passed the “Women’s Right to Know Act,” a law that mandates physicians to provide pertinent information 24 hours in advance to women who contemplate terminating their pregnancy so that they can make an informed decision.
Because of the “Women’s Right to Know Act,” women seeking an abortion are now given information about abortion procedures, the medical risks associated with both an abortion and childbirth and the description of fetal development at two-week intervals. Doctors also must offer women information about public and private services available to assist throughout their pregnancy, upon the birth of the child and while the child is growing into adulthood.
Information on financial obligations of the father and adoption also is provided.
As you can imagine, the debate on the floor of the Senate and House was contentious at times. Abortion is a topic that I am very passionate about, but I believe we did the right thing in protecting women across Georgia and their unborn children.
Statistics will bear out that since this legislation went into effect in May of 2005, somewhere between 32,700 and 40,500 women talked with their physician about the possibility of an abortion, and after they were provided with the information, more than 10,000 chose to carry their baby to term. Likewise, of the nearly 2,300 minors who considered terminating their pregnancy, less than 500 actually went on to abort their child. The “Women’s Right to Know Act” has helped save the lives of 1,800 babies of teenaged mothers and over 10,000 babies of the women of Georgia.
I have no doubt that an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy is frightening for most women, but it is vital that they understand the implications of having an abortion. It is devastating that some women make the tragic mistake of having an abortion based on fear, lack of resources or ignorance. This is exactly why we passed the “Women’s Right to Know Act.”
Earlier this year, the legislature passed, and Gov. Perdue signed, legislation that will give women the ability to view the image of their unborn fetus through an ultrasound or sonogram and listen to the child’s heartbeat. No woman will be forced to have an ultrasound, but I think that the ability to see a sonogram of your child and listen to its heartbeat can open the eyes of women wrestling with the idea of abortion.
As a new father, seeing my children grow and develop in the womb was an amazing experience. Having all the information available is a vital tool in preventing an abortion. If we can prevent one woman from having to make that tragic decision, then I believe we have done the right thing for all women and their babies.
Sen. Tommie Williams is the Senate Majority Leader. He represents the 19th Senate District, which includes Appling, Jeff Davis, Liberty, Long, Montgomery, Tattnall, Toombs, Wayne and Wheeler counties.