Georgia officials have approved the use of high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes for pregnant women, consistent with the state’s recognition of preborn children as legal persons.
Following the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the state’s law protecting preborn children with detectable heartbeats was able to take effect. That law and the subsequent court ruling Sistersong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective v. Brian Kemp, gave official personhood status to preborn children, noting that, “It shall be the policy of the state of Georgia to recognize unborn children as natural persons.” The law goes on to clarify that a natural person “means any human being, including an unborn child,” and that “unborn child means a member of the species Homo sapiens at any stage of development who is carried in the womb.”
According to WABE, the state’s law regarding HOV use previously stipulated that the lanes were allowed for “vehicles with two or more (living and not pre-infant) persons.” Since preborn children are now considered persons, the Georgia Department of Public Safety decided to remove the language “living and not pre-infant” from the HOV requirements.
This isn’t the first move by state leaders to officially recognize preborn children as persons following the Sistersong decision. In early August, the Department of Revenue announced that residents can now claim their preborn children on their taxes. These children are also viewed as residents and counted as such on census surveys. Women can even file for child support once the preborn child’s heartbeat is detected, which is usually around six weeks.
As expected, abortion advocates are uncomfortable with the idea of defining a preborn child as a person, because that would (rightly) mean that abortion deprives these children of the right to life.
As Mary Ziegler, a professor at the University of California-Davis School of Law told VICE News after the heartbeat law’s initial passage in 2019, “Fetal personhood is kind of an infinitely complicated topic with potentially infinite unintended consequences, because once you recognize a fetus as a person, they could have rights in all kinds of contexts. So you would have to work out what it meant for everything from inheritance law to tax law to civil liabilities rules to criminal law.”
But, as Josh Craddock of the James Wilson Institute told The Wall Street Journal, laws recognizing preborn children as persons will be game-changing in fighting abortion. “Talk isn’t enough, there has to be action as well, because fetal personhood is the capstone for the pro-life movement,” he said.
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