Georgia abortion rights advocates filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the state’s post-six-week abortion ban in Fulton County Superior Court.
The lawsuit represents the latest step in attempts to block the so-called “heartbeat” law, which was upheld last week by a federal appellate court. Plaintiffs in the new case include SisterSong, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia and Planned Parenthood Southeast.
Initially adopted during the 2019 legislative session, the law bans abortions in Georgia after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy.
Last week’s ruling by the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals put the Georgia law into effect immediately. The federal court’s decision came in the wake of last month’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
Now, Georgia abortion rights advocates are turning to the state constitution to block the law. They contend its guarantees of privacy makes the abortion ban illegal under state law.
“This lawsuit is grounded in more than a century of Georgia Supreme Court precedent, establishing that the Georgia Constitution is highly protective of an individual’s right to be free from political interference with their body, health, and life,” said Julia Kaye, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project.
Kaye said the group has requested a hearing for next Tuesday to ask the judge to grant a temporary injunction to block the law pending the outcome of the lawsuit.
“It is difficult to imagine a greater infringement on an individual’s right to liberty and privacy than to be forced to undergo 34 weeks of pregnancy and hours or days of labor and delivery and then in most cases, parent a child for the rest of their lives,” she said.
Gov. Brian Kemp pushed the heartbeat bill, officially known as the Georgia LIFE Act, through the General Assembly during his first year in office.
“Georgia is a state that values life at all stages, and the Georgia LIFE Act, which is now law, is one of many measures that reflects those values,” Kemp spokeswoman Katie Byrd said Tuesday. “We will continue the important work of protecting life at all stages and increasing supportive services for mothers and their children before, during, and after birth.”
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.