Georgia state supreme court reinstates six-week abortion ban | Georgia

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The Georgia state supreme court on Wednesday 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 15 November that the state ban was invalid because when it was signed into law in 2019, US supreme court precedent under Roe v Wade and another ruling allowed abortion well past 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.

But the state attorney general’s office appealed the ruling to the state supreme court, asking for an order putting the decision on hold while the appeal was pending.

The Georgia ban took effect in July, after the US supreme court overturned Roe v Wade. The state ban prohibited most abortions once a “detectable human heartbeat” was present.

Cardiac activity can be detected by ultrasound in cells within an embryo that will eventually become the heart around six weeks into a pregnancy. That means most abortions in Georgia were effectively banned at a point before many people knew they were pregnant.

Now, in addition to reinstating the state abortion ban, the Georgia state supreme court denied abortion providers’ request for 24 hours notice before reinstatement.

In a single-page ruling, the state supreme court did not explain 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.”

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.

Georgia state supreme court reinstates six-week abortion ban | Georgia

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