Appeals Court Allows Georgia’s Six-Week Abortion Ban To Take Effect

A federal appeals court judge ruled Wednesday afternoon that Georgia’s heartbeat abortion law is allowed to take effect and vacated a stay in place, allowing the law to take effect immediately.

The move comes weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Wednesday’s ruling said abortions after about six weeks are allowed in cases of rape and incest, as long as a police report is filed. Abortion is also allowed when a mother’s life is at risk, or if the fetus cannot survive.

In the ruling, the 11th circuit cited the Supreme Court’s decision and its ruling that “the Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision.”

“Georgia’s prohibition on abortions after detectable human heartbeat is rational,” the ruling continued. “Respect for and preservation of prenatal life at all stages of development” is a legitimate interest.”

“If anyone is providing abortion services now in Georgia they’re probably thinking about shutting it down as soon as possible,” said Alexander Volokh, an associate professor of law at Emory University. “If anyone is planning to get an abortion in Georgia, they should do it now or figure out how to get to Florida.”

“We are overjoyed the court has paved the way for the implementation of Georgia’s life act,” said Gov. Brian Kemp at the state capitol about an hour after the ruling was issued. “As mothers navigate pregnancy, birth, parenthood or alternative options to parenthood like adoptions, Georgia’s public, private and non-profit sectors stand ready to provide the resources they need to stay safe, healthy and informed.”

Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is challenging Kemp this fall in one of the nation’s most-watched gubernatorial elections, said, “doctors and healthcare workers agree that this law will be deadly for women across our state. While the six-week abortion ban has taken over three years to take effect, the impact is clear: women are now second-class citizens in Kemp’s Georgia.

“In a state that is already first in maternal mortality, sixth highest in infant mortality, and one of twelve states that refuses to expand Medicaid and provide health care to low-income communities, this ruling cements the failures of this administration and devastates the realities of women.”

“Kemp’s dangerous law has severe consequences for women and doctors, who could be thrown in jail for seeking or providing reproductive care,” said state Rep. Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta), who chairs the Democratic Party of Georgia. “We know the governor and Georgia Republicans want to go even further and outlaw abortion with no exceptions for victims of rape or incest.

“With out-of-touch GOP extremists rolling back our rights and women’s lives at stake, it’s crucial that Georgians elect Stacey Abrams and Democrats up and down the ballot who will fight to defend access to abortion, come hell or high water,” Williams said.

“The ACLU of Georgia will continue to fight for abortion rights for the women of Georgia with all of the tools at our disposal,” said Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia. “At the same time, Georgia voters have the opportunity to vote out politicians who oppose a woman’s right to decide when, whether, and with whom she wants to have a family.”


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