Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Men Behind 'Heartbeat' Bills ''Don't Know the First Thing About a Woman's Body Outside of the Things They Want From It'

As yet another "heartbeat bill" that would ban abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy was passed, this time in Georgia, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York slammed the "men writing these bills" for failing to show a basic understanding of how women's bodies work.

"This is a backdoor ban," Ocasio-Cortez said, as Governor Brian Kemp signed the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) heartbeat bill, making Georgia the sixth state to ban women from undergoing an abortion once a heartbeat can be detected in the embryo, which typically happens at the six-week mark.

The problem, Ocasio-Cortez, said, echoing countless reproductive rights advocates, is that, in many cases, six weeks is not even enough time for women to realize they are pregnant in the first place.

"Most of the men writing these bills don't know the first thing about a woman's body outside of the things they want from it," Ocasio-Cortez said.

While the HB 481 heartbeat bill was co-sponsored by both male and female lawmakers, including Republican Representatives Ed Setzler, Jodi Lott, Ginny Ehrhart, Josh Bonner, Darlene Taylor and Micah Gravley, as well as Republican state Senator Renee Unterman, utimately, it was signed into law by a man.

Noting that it is "relatively common for a woman to have a late period and not be pregnant," the congresswoman explained, by the six-week mark, many women will only be two weeks late, and may not have even considered the possibility of pregnancy by that point.

"'6 weeks pregnant'=2 weeks late on your period," was the way Ocasio-Cortez simplified it.

"For context, this kicks in within days of a typical at-home test working," she continued.

"If you were sexually assaulted (stress delays cycle), took a morning-after pill (throws off cycle), or have an irregular cycle, you'd have no idea," Ocasio-Cortez said. "There are a TON of ways this law ignores basic biology."

Georgia's heartbeat bill does make certain exceptions, including in cases of rape and incest, but only if a woman files a police report before seeking an abortion. The bill also makes exceptions if a mother's life is at risk and if a fetus is determined to not be viable because of medical issues.

Still, for many women, the bill would largely prohibit abortion before they are even aware they are pregnant.

As Britain's National Health Service notes on its website, "There are many reasons why a woman may miss her usual monthly period, or why periods might stop altogether" outside of pregnancy.

Most women have a period every 28 days or so, the NHS states. However, it is common to have a shorter or longer cycle, with some cycles ranging anywhere from 21 to 40 days.

The NHS further notes that some women do not always have a "regular menstrual cycle," meaning their period may come early or late, and how long it lasts or how heavy it is may also vary each cycle.

In addition to pregnancy, a woman's period may be late, or appear to stop altogether, because of "stress...sudden weight loss...being overweight or obese...extreme overexercising...reaching menopause...taking the contraceptive pill" or because of certain medical conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common condition affecting women's ovaries that can cause irregular periods.

"Periods can also sometimes stop as a result of a long-term medical condition, such as heart disease, uncontrollable diabetes, an overactive thyroid, or premature menopause," the health service states.

Noting that pregnancy is a "common reason why periods unexpectedly stop," the NHS also states that "it might be that your period is simply late, so you could wait a few days to see if it arrives."

Under the heartbill bill, there is little time for a woman to "wait a few days" to find out whether she is pregnant.

Further, under Georgia law, women must visit a clinic twice before they can get an abortion and "because Georgia law limits public and private insurance coverage of abortion, women must save up money to pay for the procedure, Elisabeth Smith, chief counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement published online.

As a result, Smith said, "even for women who find out they're pregnant before six weeks, it would be nearly impossible to get an abortion before the cutoff."

Already in Georgia, women face a number of state-imposed barriers to abortion, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. In addition to state health insurance limitations, the center said women also face a stipulation that they receive "biased counseling designed to deter them from having an abortion" before having to wait 24 hours before they can undergo the procedure.

Calling the heartbeat bill "bafflingly unconstitutional," Smith said the measure was part of a growing effort to get such anti-abortion measures in front of the Supreme Court to challenge Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that recognized a woman's legal right to abortion.

"Georgia's intentions are clear," Smith said. "They want this law to make it up to the Supreme Court to challenge Roe v. Wade. They see new justices on the court and think it's possible," she said, referring to the court's five-justice conservative majority after Justice Brett Kavanaugh's controversial appointment.

"But the composition of the court has changed many times in the 46 years since Roe, and the Supreme Court has continuously reaffirmed that women have the right to decide to have an abortion," Smith said.

Vowing to see Georgia's leadership in court, Smith said: "Bans like this have always been blocked by courts. We will be suing Georgia to make sure this law has the same fate."

The Center for Reproductive Rights is not alone in taking Georgia to court, with a number of pro-abortion rights advocacy groups prepared to challenge the law in court, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood.

"This bill is part of an orchestrated national agenda to push abortion care out of reach and we won't stand for it. Governor Kemp, we will see you in court," Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement echoing Smith's response.

Pro-abortion rights groups have already launched a lawsuit against Mississippi, which passed a similar bill banning abortion after six weeks last month. Meanwhile, the Center for Reproductive Rights noted that bans on abortion prior to viability have been struck down in a number of states, including Mississippi, over a 15-week abortion ban last year, as well as North Carolina, Iowa, Arizona, Arkansas and North Dakota, which saw a 20-week ban struck down last month.

"The Supreme Court recognized in Roe v. Wade and reaffirmed just three years ago that a state cannot deny women the ultimate decision to terminate a pregnancy prior to viability," the center said.

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AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 10: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attends the 'Knock Down The House' Premiere during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festival at the Paramount Theatre on March 10, 2019 in Austin, Texas. Ocasio-Cortez has hit out at lawmakers driving 'heartbeat' bills in states across the U.S. Gary Miller/FilmMagic
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Men Behind 'Heartbeat' Bills ''Don't Know the First Thing About a Woman's Body Outside of the Things They Want From It' | U.S.