Georgia’s new abortion law has its day in court

September 23, 2019
1 min read

A federal judge will begin to hear arguments Monday in a lawsuit against Georgia’s new abortion law.

A group of reproductive rights advocates in June asked a federal judge to overturn an abortion ban from being enforced in the state.

The advocates claim the law, dubbed the “fetal heartbeat bill,” scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020, is unconstitutional.

The defendants in the case are Gov. Brian Kemp, Attorney General Christopher Carr,  Department of Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey, the executive director and members of the Georgia Composite Medical Board and the district attorneys for the counties where the plaintiffs, a slew of local women’s health organizations, are stationed.

The state has asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit alleging that the groups have no legal standing. 

House Bill 481, also known as the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, bans abortions of pregnancies where a heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks. The challenge claims the law is a violation of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling of 1973. 

Roe v. Wade gives a woman the authority to have an abortion without government restriction until a fetus is developed enough to live outside a woman’s uterus. Georgia is one of 12 states that have passed similar restrictions this year.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Georgia, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood also filed a motion in July to block the law from taking effect while the court deliberates over the case.

According to the Pew Research Center, 70 percent of Americans oppose the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Advocates said the state should focus on exploring more reproductive health care options for women instead of adding restrictions.

“In a state with a critical shortage of medical providers and some of the highest rates of maternal and infant deaths, especially among Black Georgians, politicians should focus on expanding access to reproductive care, not banning abortion before someone even knows they’re pregnant,” said Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.

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