Georgia State Supreme Court Reinstates Six-Week Abortion Ban

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Georgia State Supreme Court Reinstates Six-Week Abortion Ban – Wednesday, the Georgia Supreme Court reinstated the state’s ban on abortions after roughly six weeks of pregnancy. The high court put a lower court ruling overturning the ban on hold while it considers an appeal. A Fulton county superior court judge, Robert McBurney, ruled on November 15 that the state ban was unconstitutional because, at the time it was signed into law in 2019, US Supreme Court precedent under Roe v. Wade and another ruling permitted abortions well beyond six weeks.

“It may someday become the law of Georgia,” McBurney wrote, “but only after our legislature determines in the sharp glare of public attention that will undoubtedly and properly attend such an important and consequential debate whether the rights of unborn children justify such a restriction on women’s right to bodily autonomy and privacy.” The decision immediately prohibited enforcement of the abortion ban statewide. Abortion providers resumed performing the procedure past six weeks.

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However, the state attorney general’s office filed an appeal with the state supreme court, requesting that the decision remained pending the outcome of the appeal. The Georgia ban went into effect in July, following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The majority of abortions were prohibited once a “detectable human heartbeat” was detected. Six weeks into a pregnancy, ultrasound can detect cardiac activity in cells within an embryo that will eventually become the heart. This means that the majority of abortions in Georgia were effectively banned before the majority of women knew they were pregnant.

In addition to reinstating the state’s abortion ban, the state supreme court of Georgia denied the abortion providers’ request for a 24-hour notice prior to the reinstatement. The state supreme court did not explain in its one-page ruling why it granted the state’s request to reinstate the ban. “The state of Georgia’s emergency petition seeking a stay of the order of the superior court of Fulton county in the above-styled action is hereby granted,” the order said. “To the extent the state also seeks an ‘administrative stay,’ that motion is dismissed as moot.”

In a statement, Amy Kennedy, vice-president for external affairs of Planned Parenthood Southeast, said: “It is unconscionable that the Georgia supreme court has chosen to deny pregnant people the ability to decide what is best for their own lives and futures.” Julia Kaye, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project, echoed Kennedy’s statement, saying: “Reinstating this extreme abortion ban will cause immense harm, especially to Black Georgians and people with the fewest resources – who are least likely to be able to travel out of state for care and most likely to suffer severe medical consequences from forced pregnancy and childbirth. While this ruling is devastating, the case is not over.”

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She added: “We will never stop fighting to ensure that everyone, no matter their geography, race or income, has the power to control their own bodies and futures.” Georgia is currently preparing for a 6 December US Senate runoff, between the incumbent Democratic senator, Raphael Warnock, and his Republican opponent, Herschel Walker. Walker has run on an anti-abortion platform, despite his own controversies on the subject. It is widely held that the threat to abortion rights helped drive better-than-expected performances by Democrats in national midterm elections this month.

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